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Tess Nakaishi and Isaac Raetz Raetz and Nakaishi1

Mr. Anderson

English 1B

5/13/2010
A Tale of Two Poems

Women; they’re everywhere. You see them on the streets, and in the country and even in

poems. These poetic works often seek to investigate and analyze women’s role in society and the

thoughts regarding them. Two examples of such poems are “Women”, by Alice Walker, and

“Ain’t I a Woman,” by Sojourner Truth. These two poems share a common theme of women and

their sometimes overlooked strength. This does not mean they are identical, though. The poems

“Women” and “Ain’t I aA Woman” are similar because of their rhythm, and comparison, but and

different in tone, alliteration, onomatopoeia, and imagery.

First of all, they’re similar because of their rhythm. Rhythm includes meter (the pattern of

unstressed syllables) and free verse (without any meter). In line 3-4 of “Women” it says, “Husky

of voice-stout of/step.” This shows that the poem is free verse, because these two lines are not

the same length and do not have a regular pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables. Lines 1-2

of “Aint I a Woman” states say, “That man over there say/a woman needs to be helped into

carriages.” This proof demonstrates that this poem is free verse as well, because there is no meter

that can be found in these lines. Therefore, since both of these poems’ rhythm are free verse, we

can see one way they are comparablesimilar.

Second, comparison is a way these poems are similar. Comparison includes figures of

speech like metaphor and simile. “Women” uses a metaphor in line 14: ‘headragged generals.”

This is comparing women to male soldiers. “Ain’t I a Woman” contains a comparison, this time
Tess Nakaishi and Isaac Raetz Raetz and Nakaishi2

Mr. Anderson

English 1B

5/13/2010
simile, in the quote “I could work as much and eat as much as a man,” on line 15-16. This one is

comparing the author, a woman, to a man. They are both comparing women to male figures.

Therefore, comparison is one way these poems are close to the same.

Third, they are different because of tone. Although their subject matter is somewhat of

the same theme, the tone, or attitude of the author, differs. In line 1-4 of “Women,” it describes

the situation as: “They were women then/my mama’s generation/husky of voice-stout of/step.”

This quote refers to the author’s ancestors and seems to be speaking positively

of them. Therefore, the tone seems to be proud. In comparison, “Ain’t I a Woman” says, “And

ain’t I a woman/I could work as much/and eat as much as a man...” in lines 14-16. The author is

talking about herself and trying to prove she is just as good as a man despite the normal attitudes,

so the tone is defiant. In these ways, tone is a way in which these two poems are different.

Another difference is the alliteration in these poems. Alliteration is when words

beginning with the same vowel sound are found close together. In line 22-23 of “Women,” it

mentions says, “How we knew/what we must know…” The words ‘knew’ and ‘know,’ sound the

same, so it is alliteration, but the words are relatively far apart for alliteration. In comparison,

“Ain’t I a Woman,” has alliteration in line 11 when it says, ‘I have plowed and planted.” The

words ‘plowed’ and planted’ have the same initial vowel sound, so they are alliteration, but,

unlike the former poem, the words are in the same line and very close together. Because of this,

alliteration is one way that these two poems are different.


Tess Nakaishi and Isaac Raetz Raetz and Nakaishi3

Mr. Anderson

English 1B

5/13/2010

Also, they are distinct fferent because of onomatopoeia. Onomatopoeia is when words

sound like what they literally mean. “Women” contains onomatopoeia in line 7, ‘battered down

doors.” The word ‘battered’ is the onomatopoeia, and could be interpreted as either positive or

negative, depending on whether you’re proud or upset about battering down the doors. “Ain’t I a

Woman” says, “and bear the lash” in line 18. ‘Lash’ sounds a little like the sound of a whip so it

is onomatopoeia, but unlike ‘battered,’ it is most definitely negative. These poems are dissimilar

as can be proved by the types of onomatopoeia they use.

Finally, they are different because of the types if imagery used. Imagery is any kind of

description which appeals to one of the five senses. Line 3 of “Women” describes the women as

being “husky of voice.” This appeals to the sense of hearing, and it is a neutral description,

because husky voices can be liked or disliked. Meanwhile, “Ain’t I a Woman” mentions “and

when I cried out in mother’s grief” in line 22. This is also a sound, however crying out in grief is

obviously a negative image. It is apparent that these poems differ due to the imagery they

employ.

“Women” and “Ain’t I a Woman” are two poems which contain elements that are both

similar and dissimilar. They show likeness similarity in how their rhythm is both free verse.

They are also somewhat the same because of the types of comparisons they use. They are diverse

fferent because of their tone. Also, they are unique as a result of the alliteration used.
Tess Nakaishi and Isaac Raetz Raetz and Nakaishi4

Mr. Anderson

English 1B

5/13/2010
Additionally, onomatopoeia makes them separate. Lastly, their imagery is different because of

whether the description is negative or neutral. In conclusion, looking at these poems, and how

they are alike and unlike because of various elements, can help us further understand the role

women play in society and the various attitudes about them. This is important to understand,

because, after all, women will always be a part of your world. Because, after all, they’re

everywhere.