Today in class, we analyzed “Southern Gothic” and “Incident” from the Native Guards, and since these two poems are very rich in meaning I thought I would share some of my interpretations.
In Southern Gothic, Trethewey lays down on the bed that her parents used to share and revisits her childhood in a dream.
“framing the separate lives they’ll wake to. Dreaming,
I am again the child with too many questions – “
Once again she is the child with many questions, however, she is yet to realize that the answers are far more complicated as she contemplates the past in her dream. Trethewey also seems to demonstrate her disappointment at a subject which she didn’t understand upon the time it happened.
“my mother cannot answer, her mouth closed, a gesture
toward her future: cold lips stitched shut.”
In the lines above, her mother is unable to answer her questions because she’s just an image in a dream. On the other hand, the author also seems to imply that her mother’s lips are “stitched shut” because of the consequence already happened and nothing could change the past.
Whereas in Incident, Trethewey narrates about the Ku Klux Klan visiting their house. The repetition of words “no one came”, “nothing really happened” seems to reinforce the message that it the history was retold so many times that it lost its’ impact.
“We tell the story every year –
how we peered from the windows, shades drawn –
though nothing really happened,
the charred grass now green again.”
The line that says “the charred grass now green again” could also to refer that the disturbing consequences of history is just an incident because everything is fixed like the charred grass is green again.
Finally, I also want to stress the line “we tell the story every year” which is an opening and ending of the poem. Trethewey could be referring to “we” as the black community and how they tell the story every year in a hope that people would acknowledge the ugly truth of the past. However, the white-supremacists/public are indifferent to the story because the KKK is seen as angels not murderers or criminals.
“It seemed the angels had gathered, white men in their gowns.”
These are just my rambling thoughts, what were your opinions?