In Gwendolyn Brooks's "We Real Cool " the focal theme is the stereotype of the young black American of the late 1950's and early 1960's; one who aims desperately to find a role within a society that aims to suppress him. As a result of such suppression and...
In Gwendolyn Brooks's "We Real Cool" the focal theme is the stereotype of the young black American of the late 1950's and early 1960's; one who aims desperately to find a role within a society that aims to suppress him. As a result of such suppression and lack of government empowerment, the gang of seven black kids at the Golden Shovel chooses to lead a life of crime and mischief, thus making real the erroneous stereotype of all blacks being thought of as lazy, uneducated and socially inept.
The poem tells through figurative language and rhetorical devices how these young men lead their lives of crime.
Strike straight. We
Sing Sin. We
Thin gin. We
Jazz June. We
These are all descriptors of the different crimes that they have done, which range from fighting (strike straight), to boasting about it (sing sin), illegal alcohol use (thin gin), and the stealing of Summer vacationers and people who are new to the neighborhood (Jazz June).
However, Brooks by no means attempts for the reader to feel sorry for these men. She is not making these young men into heroes fighting a system like vigilantes while taking justice into their own hands. They are presented and shown as what they are: uneducated and ineffectual members of society; they are criminals.
Brooks presents this poem to show that the only way the black people of her generation can rise is by working together and fighting that system that so-very much tries to sink them. The portrait that she brings out aims to create conscience in the black community in the hopes that a collective sense of dignity can come out and permeate their lives for good. In all, We Real Cool is an ironic title that points out the mentality of a group of socially dejected young black men under the turmoil of their time.