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.)