abstract illustration of many different faces and settings that reflect the diversity of speakers in the Spoon River Anthology

Spoon River Anthology

by Edgar Lee Masters

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Why was Minerva Jones ridiculed and laughed at during her life?

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In poem 21 of Edgar Lee Masters' collection Spoon River Anthology, Minerva Jones speaks to the reader from her grave. Minerva, the village poet, is ridiculed by the town because she is disabled. She relates that she had a "heavy body, cock-eye, and rolling walk" which suggests that she had difficulty moving and that she had what we might call today a "wandering eye." 

Minerva suffers because of her disabilities. Not only is she teased by the people she calls the "Yahoos of the street" (no relation to the search engine Yahoo!), but she actually dies because a man torments her because of them. In the poem, Minerva says that a man named "Butch" Weldy hunted her like an animal and then left her with the doctor to die. 

Minerva's name is an allusion to the Greek goddess of wisdom and education, suggesting that the townspeople do not know they are killing true wisdom. The goddess Minerva was also known as a huntress, so it is ironic that the Minerva is this poem is the hunted prey and that she cannot fight back against her predators. 

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