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Discuss approaches for annotating the following lines from Ezekiel's "Background,...

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sharief78 | Student, Undergraduate | Salutatorian

Posted January 12, 2013 at 7:24 PM via web

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Discuss approaches for annotating the following lines from Ezekiel's "Background, Casually:" 

"I grew in terror of the strong / But undernourished Hindu lads/ Their prepositions always wrong/ Repelled me by passivity/ One noisy day I used a knife."

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 13, 2013 at 4:41 PM (Answer #1)

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I think that one approach that can be taken in annotating this poem using these lines is to point to the idea of alienation that is evident in the poem.  Ezekiel is writing about his own background and his own experiences of being Jewish in India.  The conditions of his adolescence and his growth were evident in that he did not find acceptance anywhere.  The "strong" and the "terror" that results from it is reflective of what it means to be a minority in a setting where the majority experiences massive swelling of numbers.  Christians rejected him because of him "killing Christ" while Hindus and Muslims would not accept him either.  In this "noisy" state of being where his own silence was magnified, the image of taking a knife is a powerful one.  It helps to bring out an idea of loss that is emphasized by the following line: "The more I searched, the less I found. " The emptiness of the prayers in being Jewish are also emphasized.  In annotating these lines, I think that identification of alienation and the idea of being estranged from a larger collective element could be present.  I think that these lines help to bring out this theme of alienation and separation, something that is raised throughout the poem and brought to light in the exploration of the poem's adolescent period of his life.

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