What are some examples of juxtaposition in Louise Erdrich's poem "Jacklight"?

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vangoghfan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Juxtaposition is used often in Louise Erdrich's poem "Jacklight." One very useful web site defines juxtaposition as follows:

The arrangement of two or more ideas, characters, actions, settings, phrases, or words side-by-side or in similar narrative moments for the purpose of comparison, contrast, rhetorical effect, suspense, or character development. (http://web.cn.edu/kwheeler/lit_terms_J.html)

Juxtaposition appears, for instance, in some of the following places in Erdrich's poem:

  • In the juxtaposition of the prose of the opening epigraph with the verse of the succeeding poem.
  • In the sudden shift from active to passive phrasing in the transition from line 5 and line 6.
  • In the sudden shift from plural in the lines 1-7 to singular in lines 8-9.
  • In the sudden shift back to plural from singular that occurs in line 10.
  • In the phrase "night sun" (line 11).
  • In the sudden shift from an emphasis on "we" in the first three stanzas to an emphasis on "they" in stanza four.
  • In the shift from the largely attractive imagery of the first three stanzas to the largely unattractive imagery of stanza four.
  • In the abrupt shift that occurs midway through line 18: "We smell their mothers buried chin-deep in wet dirt." (A similar shift occurs in line 21.)
  • In the sudden shift back to an emphasis on "we" that occurs in line 28.
  • In the sudden shift back to "they" that occurs in the final stanza.




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