The Undertaker Essay

1400 words - 6 pages

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The Undertaker's RollercoasterPatricia Smith's poem "Undertaker" is a sample of a Dramatic poem. A dramatic poem is a very emotional piece of literature. The Dramatic poem is written to be presented to a live audience. "Undertaker" is also considered a "Slam" poem. Slam poems are Dramatic poems that are read to a silent listener or, more often, an audience and are read forcefully and with great passion to induce the audience to "feel" the words. As with "Undertaker," many Dramatic/Slam poems are made into short plays or films giving its audience the full effect of the written work. In "Undertaker," Smith addresses the myriad of thoughts and emotions that go on in the mind of this man as he deals with this difficult job day to day. Compassion, empathy, anger, and hopelessness is the emotional rollercoaster the Undertaker boards every day.There are three characters in the Undertaker, the boy, his mother, and the Undertaker. The boy, the center of attention in this poem, is young and has cut his life short due to choices that he has made. The mother, though it is not stated, is most likely a single mom who feels that she has done her best to raise her boy. The emotions that come out in the poem suggest that she feels that her son, like all the other sons before, is innocent and should not be where he is. The Undertaker, our main character, seems to have gotten callused by so many short lived lives that have crossed his shiny tables. He wants to see the violence, that brought this young man to his early death, stop and to be able to carry on a "normal" undertaker's life.What is unspoken in the writing is that the Undertaker has this job, a service to his community, of preparing the deceased for burial. The underlying thought or feeling is that this is a necessary work and that normally I (the undertaker) should be preparing old people who have lived out their lives and have just died of old age or maybe the occasional younger person who met an early death through disease or accident. But, the day for this Undertaker is filled with senseless deaths due to drugs, and other gang activity. They keep getting younger and the job keeps getting harder. Facing the mothers, feeling their pain, crying inside with them yet having to put on the business face, because this is, after all, a business, is becoming almost too hard to do. The rollercoaster ride is getting more difficult day by day.The poem starts with, probably, the most dramatic illustration of the whole poem; "When a bullet enters the brain, the head explodes" (Smith, Patricia 182). It seems that in this one statement the Undertaker wants to express to the mother the condition that her baby boy is in. He wants her to understand the daunting task that he has ahead of him. By this statement, he is suggestion to her that she should not expect a whole lot. Smith does a beautiful job of painting a picture of the scene as we see in lines 2-10:I can think of no softer warning for the...

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