“Africville” Poem analysis

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21 March 2016

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In Maxine Tynes’ poem “Africville,” the theme addressed is despite how the community of Africville was completely destroyed, their pride still prospers and remains in the minds and hearts of all its citizens. Tynes uses repetition, tone of voice, symbolism and imagery to dynamically convey the theme. Throughout the poem, Tynes exhibits a universal tone used to evoke pain and anger, as well as a more contrasting tone that demonstrates pride. This contrast of the specific tone used is demonstrated by Tynes in the first stanza of the poem: “We are the dispossessed Black of the land/creeping with shadows/with life/with pride” (2-5). “We are the dispossessed Black of the land/ creeping with shadows” generates a feeling of loss which invokes the event in which the citizens of Africville were dislodged from their beloved land. The following part of the phrase, “With life/with pride” contrasts the first half by emitting a sense of pride which effectively conveys a more positive aura.

This connotation is used to display how the community of Africville still lives on after they were evicted from their Promised Land. In addition to the tone of voice, the speaker uses repetition and well-founded word choice continually in various fragments of the poem. The speaker tells the readers of the poem that “No house is Africville. /No road, no tree, no well.” (25-26). The word “no” is repeated throughout the passage to emphasize and convey the theme; that Africville is not simply a location, but a part of the community itself. Thirdly, the theme is intensified by the frequent use of symbolism and imagery. It is recognized that the speaker uses imagery to foreshadow how the Africville community is a strong and hopeful society.

The last stanza highlights this in the last few lines: “We wear Our Africville face and skin and heart. /For all the world. / For Africville.” (33-35). Readers notice that the word “Our” is capitalized. This addresses how the speaker associates the Africville community with the impression of importance and high value to the speaker itself. Furthermore, the symbolism plays a crucial role in the poem; “This park is green; but / Black, so Black with community.” (15-16). The colour green is used to represent the peaceful community that Africville used to be. “Black” is used to contrast the Green by associating itself with the evil of the decision to demolish Africville. In conclusion, Tynes uses a combination of literary and figurative language to convey the theme; although Africville is gone, its community lives on.

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