Connotation In Natasha Trethewey's 'Artifact'

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Because everyone differs from one another, each person’s opinions and interpretations of everyday events will vary based on how the information is perceived. These differences are especially noticed when reading and analyzing works of literature. Poems, for example, often lead to an audience with very different interpretations of the meaning being conveyed. Although Natasha Trethewey’s poem, “Artifact,” is a rather simply structured and straightforward poem, the connotations of the diction can cause a reader’s interpretation to be completely different than the poem’s intended meaning.
The structure of “Artifact” is very simple. It contains nine stanzas that are each two lines. These stanzas are often referred to as couplets and require the
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This poem also uses a variety of pronouns including “I,” “me,” and “you” which suggest to the reader that Trethewey is speaking to someone (in this case her father) who may or may not actually be present.
After reading through “Artifact” by Natasha Trethewey, my initial interpretation was that the poem was written about her father’s death and that he had taken his own life. I initially made the connection that the poem was about someone she has known for the majority of her life when Trethewey states that the rifle had been kept for “as long as I can remember” (Trethewey). This statement indicates to the reader that the person (and the rifle) the poem is about has always been in her life. This information helps narrow down who the poem may be about. Trethewey goes on to say that the rifle is “your grandfather’s” and that she’d “inherit” it which suggests to the reader that the rifle is a family loom. Making this connection helped me come to the conclusion that the rifle belonged to her father, so the poem must also be about her father. From this point, I was able to make the connection that the rifle had a great importance to her father’s life. It was kept in his study among his
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For instance, they are both poets and professors which explains “how one life is bound to another” (Trethewey). This also explains why the rifle is referred to as “an antique” by her father and “a relic” by herself (Trethewey). An antique usually describes an item that is highly valued or cherished which can be contributed to her father’s connection to it. The rifle seems to be the only piece of his past (or connection to his father) that he has left so it is very important to him which is why he keeps it close to him in his study with his “hard worn” books. However, a relic, as Trethewey calls it, refers to something old, preserved, and not as cherished. The difference in descriptions is important because it shows that she does not have the connection to it that her father has. This can be attributed to the fact that when her parents divorced, she lived with her (black) mother and did not see as much of her (white) father or his side of the family, so she did not feel a deep connection to her grandfather’s rifle. Another discrepancy with my initial interpretation is that her father was still alive when this poem was written, so it cannot be about him taking his own life. Since this is the case, why was I able to make an argument filled with evidence that “Artifact” is indeed about

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