Describe how the poem, "The Red Wheelbarrow" evoke emotions of surprise.

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

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I think that one of the most striking elements of Williams' poem is how a sense of surprise at something so common.  The common element of a red wheelbarrow is constructed to be something more than ordinary in the way it is described in the poem.  The "glazed with rain water" brings out an image of something covered with an other- worldly quality.  This helps to bring out emotions of surprise in how it stands in the world and how fortunate one is to be in witness of it.  At the same time, the condition of the wheelbarrow as a part of the world in which it exists, "beside the white chickens" helps to illuminate the sense of surprise that the reader is seeing something in the world that seems to be a part of it.  In this description of the red wheelbarrow, the distinct feeling that a common object can possess extraordinary qualities is a part of this experience of surprise in the poem.  The viewing of the wheelbarrow and the sensation experience associated with it are realities that are ones which evoke emotions of surprise, to ensure that such an experience is not taken for granted.