The Anger That Breaks the Man into Children Analysis

Cesar Vallejo

The Poem

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

The anger in César Vallejo’s “The Anger That Breaks the Man into Children” is a force that shatters and divides so that it may reach a point of unification, the point of origin. The poem presents a reversal of Darwinian evolution as each stanza fragments its subject into increasingly numerous portions. The anger, specifically, as Vallejo reiterates in each stanza, “the anger of the poor,” works to break down human constructions and social orders. Four different directions this anger takes are described in four five-line stanzas of a similar, almost cyclical, structure, each stanza beginning with the anger and ending with the power—now honed and concentrated—that remains in that anger and that must be returned to if revolution, whether political or spiritual, is to be achieved.

While each stanza completes its own cycle, a progression in the poem as a whole can be seen in the decreasing levels of consciousness of the objects of each stanza’s anger. The first of the anger’s objects, for instance, is “the man,” the pinnacle of evolutionary development thus far. The man, however, with his constructs of experience and strength, must be broken into “children”—reminiscent of Jesus’ decree in Matthew 18:3 that “unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Vallejo, who rejected Catholicism, is known for his Christian references). The division continues as the child is broken into...

(The entire section is 530 words.)

Forms and Devices

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

The central motif of “The Anger That Breaks the Man into Children,” with its repetition eight times in a twenty-line poem, is “anger,” yet Vallejo’s is an unusual kind of anger in that it is not destructive, but rather productive. The anger divides its objects into images of regeneration and fertility. In the first stanza the division of the man moves from children, suggesting innocence and potential, to birds, suggesting flight, to the final image of “little eggs,” clearly symbolic of birth.

The second stanza follows the division of a tree into leaves, then buds, again suggesting birth. Vallejo’s poetry is never predictable, however, and the third stanza presents a more ironic symbol of birth or origin. Here the good is broken into “unforeseeable tombs,” from which, unlike “foreseeable” graves, will rise something different from the usual outcome of death: decay, stagnation. Instead, the opposite will occur: resurrection. The message is that one must die, returning to the point of origin, to be reborn. Other images show fragmentation resulting in a scientific or mathematical view of the object; the tree, for instance, is finally seen as no more than (or no less than) “telescopic grooves.” The “good” is divided into “three similar arcs” (perhaps a reference to the Christian Trinity), and the soul into “dissimilar organs,” then “octave thoughts.”

On the other hand, the images presented as qualities of...

(The entire section is 524 words.)