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Analysis and comments on In the desert by Stephen Crane

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Comment 21 of 231, added on August 31st, 2005 at 6:23 AM.

This is a beautiful piece of work. The first thing i see, though, is the
desert. This 'creature', who we all know to be a person, is trapped in a
bleak wasteland of his own soul. Not Hell, as heat is never mentioned, but
dry and dusty and mostly isolated (probably by choice).

Secondly, obviously, the 'creature, naked, beastial,' (l. 2) does represent
someone who has been stripped of all social refinement, and comes to us as
a primitive. Holding his own heart in his hands, as opposed to someone
else holding it (as someone might tell a lover they do) shows this man's
control over himself and his emotions.

Now the big thing: This fellow is not being self-destructive. The narrator
never said that he ATE his heart, only that he ate OF if, or tasted it, as
it were. He took a small sampling of it and found it bitter, which was to
his liking. Bitterness was this fellow's self-made shield, or wall, to
keep himself safe and to keep others, like the narrator, at a distance.

This is a poem about safety and isolation, and, yes, probably cowardice and
stubbornness, but, to go against the popular opinion, not self-destruction
and abuse.

Josh from United States
Comment 20 of 231, added on August 27th, 2005 at 5:21 AM.

a cynic must maintain that his/her cynicism is true - this is the creature
in the desert, the cynic who has made it (or it has all become) reality,
proof, truth!

Nimal from Australia
Comment 19 of 231, added on August 19th, 2005 at 8:05 PM.

Everyone says this poem is about self-destruction, but I think it is really
about liking yourself in spite of your flaws.

Mike M from United States
Comment 18 of 231, added on July 1st, 2005 at 10:00 AM.

The poem “In the Desert” by Stephen Crane is about him or someone he knows
maybe. It’s about this one guy in a desert without any cloths. That means
that he has nothing left in life, he is striped from everything. Then
somebody asks him “is it good my friend”, and he answers “It is bitter –
bitter, but I like it, because it is bitter, and because it is my heart.” I
thank that means his heart is his life and he thanks he is bitter, has
nothing else left in his life, and he likes it, and accepts it.

Ben Dains from United States
Comment 17 of 231, added on June 5th, 2005 at 1:08 PM.

I encountered this poem when I was in my early 30s (I'm in my early 70s
now)at a time when my life situation had taken a sudden spiral downward
into despair resulting from multiple and almost simultaneous losses. From
that place of emptiness and confusion, I found in the metaphor courage,
hope, and strength to accept "what is", to rebuild, and to distinguish my
Life from my "life situation"......Bitter or sweet, it Is my heart, my
Life. And I like it!

Jo from United States
Comment 16 of 231, added on May 31st, 2005 at 7:48 PM.

firstly, ALL HAIL STEPHEN CRANE! secondly, my thoughts.
this poem has become the offical poem of the year in my english class. not
only has everyone memorized it, but is all too eager to perform their
dramatic interpretation. I don't think a single one of them has put any
thought to it's meaning.
Thanks to my lovely family, i have inherited the blessing of manic
depression, and now that i am reasonably sane, i can recognize perverted
thoughts and relate to this poem. When you have depression, you become so
comfortable with self-bashing and mutilation, that you actually would
rather stay there then put in the effort to drag yourself out. Some people
cant understand this mindset at all, but if you have depression you know
exactly what i, and this poem, are talking about.

Erin (from oregon) from United States
Comment 15 of 231, added on May 25th, 2005 at 12:59 PM.

it dont understand what it means! it seems pretty wierd to me. but i
wouldnt know anything about it.

LzH. from United States
Comment 14 of 231, added on May 10th, 2005 at 7:10 AM.

who knows

craven morhed from Morocco
Comment 13 of 231, added on May 9th, 2005 at 11:34 PM.

This poem is about self destruction or self sabotage. All of us will meet
people like this. I've worked with a few and perhaps even been one. The
character in the poem is naked and bestial because Crane is speaking of a
man stripped of showey civility. He is speaking to the raw man. The man is
destroying himself (by eating his heart) and when the passerby asks about
the taste the man admits that it is bitter, as self destruction really is.
But the man knows no other way. He is comfortable with chaos and
destruction in his life. It is all he has ever known. He knows that it is
bitter but likes it because it is all that he has to offer to the world and
to himself. It is who he is. He must force himself to like the taste of his
own destruction because to reject it would be admitting irrelavance or
invisibility in the world. He hates that more than the pain of self
destruction becuase rejection is what formed him. He has become self
destructive because he has been rejected. In real life this is the wife who
stays with the abusive husband. This is the teenager who steals bigger and
bigger things until he finally gets caught. In the corperate world this is
the man who causes discord with everyone around him until he finally gets
fired. They are comfortable with chaos and destruction and yet they hate it
and dream of success or freedom. They eat it though it is bitter and though
it means death.

Jason from United States
Comment 12 of 231, added on March 29th, 2005 at 1:29 PM.

I've worked with this poem quite a bit throughout the years for different
reasons, but I've never encountered this before: I have recently seen
copies of this poem under the title "The Heart". Results for this same poem
came up when I checked both titles online. Does anyone know what the story
behind this?

Jarod from United States

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Information about In the desert

Poet: Stephen Crane
Poem: 3. In the desert
Volume: The Black Riders & Other Lines
Year: 1905
Added: Jan 31 2004
Viewed: 3300 times
Poem of the Day: Jun 28 2000


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