An Analysis Of Symbolism In The Ballad Of Birmingham

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“The Ballad of Birmingham” is a poem depicting the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963. Several differences arise when comparing the poem to the historical account of Claude Sitton, “Birmingham Bomb Kills 4 Negro girls in Church; Riots Flare; 2 Boys Slain” in the New York Times. The poem, “The Ballad of Birmingham”, written by Dudley Randall, changes events, details of the girls killed, information of their mothers, and the voice’s point of view to elicit empathy, involve the reader emotionally, and demonstrate symbolism to personalize the event. Randall changes the reason of why the daughter goes to church on Sunday. Sitton states the girls killed in the bombing were in Sunday School for a lesson on “A Love That Forgives” (16). …show more content…
The narrator of the poem describes the single girl as a child by demonstrating her asking the mother to “…go downtown/ [i]nstead of out to play” (Randall 2). Randall changes the ages of the single daughter to be much younger than eleven or fourteen years of age by describing how the mother prepares her daughter for church (17-20). “She has combed and brushed her night dark hair,/ And bathed her rose petal sweet,/ And drawn white gloves on her small brown hands,/ And white shoes on her feet” (Randall 17-20). Exchanging the daughter’s age and describing the young girl produces a larger shock for the reader. The author does not include specific details of the children or mothers in “The Ballad of Birmingham”. The account in the New York Times article states exact specifics of the girls’ and mothers’ names, ages, and professions (Sitton 16-17). The poem discusses only the mother and daughter to personalize their relationship. Including details of four daughters, their mothers, ages, and professions would dilute the audience’s attention from the bombing. With the reader attached the single daughter and mother, the author creates a larger emotional reaction to the …show more content…
The New York Times article does not address whereabouts or the statuses of the mothers of the girls killed. Randall creates a narrative, utilizing strong action-trigger words to stimulate the reader’s imagination. The mother “races through the streets of Birmingham/ [c]alling for her child” (Randall 27-28). The reader experiences the mother “claw[ing] though bits of glass and brick” (Randall 29).
The poem, “The Ballad of Birmingham”, alters events, details of the girls killed, information of their mothers, and the voice’s point of view to provoke empathy, involve the reader emotionally, and demonstrate symbolism to personalize the event. Sitton’s New York Times article is an objective, unbiased account of the events which took place. Randall writes the poem in a manner which places the reader in a position to fully experience the bombing. The audience feels bomb’s after math, producing a visceral

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