Paul Laurence Dunbar

Start Your Free Trial

In "Sympathy" by Paul Laurence Dunbar, how does the poem's straightforward language depict the plight of African-Americans, and was it as effective as his other poems in dialect?  

Expert Answers info

Olen Bruce eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2016

write4,280 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

In "Sympathy," Paul Laurence Dunbar uses the extended metaphor of a bird in a cage to express the plight of African-Americans. His use of easily understood imagery in all three stanzas conveys the agony of being less-than-free. For example, in the first stanza, the bird is subjected to "When the sun is bright on the upland slopes; When the wind stirs soft through the springing grass" (lines 2-3). While the bird sees the enticements of nature, it can not escape from its cage. In the second stanza, the bird beats his wing on the cage's bars until it is sore, and in...

(The entire section contains 283 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial