In "We Real Cool," how does the poet view the pool players? Does she blame them for their bleak fates ahead or have sympathy for them?

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While I believe Brooks feels sympathy for the pool playing dropouts, I read the poem as sharply critical of the lives they are leading. I have trouble with the idea of having to choose between an feeling of "blame" or "sympathy" toward these particular individuals because I think the poem...

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While I believe Brooks feels sympathy for the pool playing dropouts, I read the poem as sharply critical of the lives they are leading. I have trouble with the idea of having to choose between an feeling of "blame" or "sympathy" toward these particular individuals because I think the poem is not so much taking a side as simply depicting a dead-end mindset that is born of lack of opportunity. Social critique is implicit in this poem. Brooks is making a nuanced move: she is both criticizing the choices made by these young men and, by shining a light on them, implicitly raising a question about why their lives are being wasted in this way.

She definitely is critical and mocking the young men's self definition as "real cool." Their lives might look good on one level—they play pool, drink, and "jazz" around having fun—but the poem ends on with the words "Die soon." It is sad that these young men are deluding themselves and sad that they are throwing away their lives; none of this, Brooks seems to say, will have a good outcome.

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