How does Sandburg defend Chicago in the poem "Chicago"?

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the second stanza of "Chicago," Sandburg lists the insults that have been aimed at Chicago, including that it is wicked, crooked, and brutal. While he admits that these qualities are true of Chicago, he defends the city by saying that it is also vital, clever, and strong. He refers to Chicago as a "tall bold slugger set vivid against the little soft cities." It is a city that is constantly building and rebuilding, and it has the kind of liveliness and energy that the smaller cities around it don't have. The city is like a callow youth that laughs. As Sandburg writes, Chicago is "laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has never lost a battle." It has a kind of brashness because the city is proud to offer so much to the rest of the country. As Sandburg writes, Chicago plays many roles, including those of "Hog Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation." So, while what people say to vilify the city might be true, Chicago is also a proud producer of many goods and services that the rest of the nation needs.