‘Minority’ – Unseen poem analysis

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21 March 2016

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Minority is a poem about feeling displaced and rejected from society. It conveys to the reader how helpful literature can be in voicing important opinions to society. The poem communicates the idea of exclusion and the feeling of being unwanted to the reader through meaningful lexical choices and imagery.

Dharker begins with the line “I was born a foreigner.” It is impossible to be born a foreigner, as everybody is born somewhere. However, this line helps to convey to the reader straight away that the persona does not belong and faces prejudice even from the country they were born in due to being the child of an immigrant. In addition to this, throughout the poem, the persona rarely addresses other people, only sometimes referring to the reader as “you.” There is repetition of the personal pronoun “I” throughout suggests that the persona is alone as they do not have anybody else to refer to. This could also suggest how the poet feels she is alone in her thoughts about this subject.

The speaker also uses sensory imagery in order to convey their feelings of being foreign. It is stated that they are “like food cooked in milk of coconut” and there is an “unexpected aftertaste.” The use of this simile expresses to the reader that the persona is not what people expect in their country just as an “unexpected aftertaste” is not what would be expected from a cultures stereotypical meal.

The following stanza speaks about the language barriers between the persona and the people in the society around them. It is stated that “words tumble over, a cunning tripwire on the tongue.” This could be referring to how the persona’s unusual accent may be heard significantly when they say some words. The use of the word “cunning” suggests that the language that the person is trying to speak is tricking them. This use of anthropomorphism when describing the “tripwire” suggests that it is not just society that makes her feel like an outcast, but the language she must speak.

The poet then goes on to write about how writing has no judgement and will accept her. She writes that she scratches on the “growing scab of black on white.” By comparing the prejudice to a scab, she is suggesting that there is a wound that she can heal by putting pen to paper; “black on white.” She then states that “a page doesn’t fight back.” This conveys a strong message to the reader that poetry does not judge and she can convey a message more effectively through this than speaking due to her place in society as a “minority.”

Dharker also uses manichean imagery to emphasise her emotion towards the subject of the poem. She writes “so I scratch, scratch through the night.” The fact that the speaker works on this “through the night” suggests that the problem is keeping the persona awake. The use of “the night” creates a dark atmosphere and a dismal but strong tone as the reader feels as though the persona works extremely hard for their rights and wants them so much that they will stay up all night formulating their feelings into words that can convey a message.

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"‘Minority’ – Unseen poem analysis" StudyScroll, 21-Mar-2016. [Online]. Available: https://studyscroll.com/minority-unseen-poem-analysis-essay. [Accessed: 5-Dec-2022]

StudyScroll. (2016). ‘Minority’ – Unseen poem analysis. [Online]. Available at: https://studyscroll.com/minority-unseen-poem-analysis-essay [Accessed: 5-Dec-2022]

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