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In "O Captain! My Captain" by Walt Whitman, what does the ship symbolize and what...

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ornateredmoon | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 24, 2013 at 2:19 AM via web

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In "O Captain! My Captain" by Walt Whitman, what does the ship symbolize and what message does it give the reader?

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tinicraw | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted February 25, 2013 at 6:28 PM (Answer #2)

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In the poem "O Captain! My captain!" by Walt Whitman, the ship does symbolize the United States of America. More particularly, the ship represents the union army at the end of the Civil War. The victory at the end of the battle in the poem represents the victory of the union army over the Confederacy after the war in 1865. The ship is sailing into port and the citizens on land have fireworks going and there's a big party to celebrate the end of the battle (or war). Just as the ship represents the union army, the captain represents Abraham Lincoln who dies too soon to see the full rewards of victory and peace. The ship is a vessel like the United States is a vessel that carries it's people and leader together through war and peace.

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