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What is the appropriateness of the title "The Slave's Dream"?

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hpsree | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 16, 2011 at 12:57 AM via web

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What is the appropriateness of the title "The Slave's Dream"?

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 16, 2011 at 8:11 AM (Answer #1)

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The title of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem "The Slave's Dream" is completely appropriate given the action of the text. The poem details the dream of a slave.

The poem beings with the slave laying by rice, with a sickle in his hand. The slave has not yet, or has stopped, begun working on harvesting the rice. Instead, the slave lays down and begins to dream.

Beside the ungathered rice he lay,/ His sickle in his hand;/ His breast was bare, his matted hair/ Was buried in the sand,/ Again, in the mist and shadow of sleep,/ He saw his Native Land.

After falling asleep, the slave dreams of his home. In the end, his sleep was what saved him from ever being beaten by a master's whip or the heat of the day. The slave never awakes from his final sleep. Instead, his soul is able to finally find rest in death.

Therefore, the title of the poem offers a direct link to what the poem is about. A reader does not have to "read between the lines" or use any type of inferences or assumptions to realize the action of the poem.

 


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