Essay on Ralph Ginsberg 's A Supermarket

920 Words Sep 19th, 2016 4 Pages
Poetry is a license to manipulate the text’s form and structure to help the author persuade us of his argument. As literary critics, we can analyze and evaluate Ginsberg’s artistry in “A Supermarket In California” to argue the estranging nature of contemporary society and the potential for redemption through art. Ginsberg has the speaker of the poem wander through free verse, exploring his thoughts and the streets, imagining he encounters Walt Whitman in a supermarket. Throughout his aimless stroll, the speaker poses weighty questions regarding the value of technological improvements in America. The questions have no answers, but Ginsberg uses word choice, structure, and symbols to present contemporary life as a new existence in which we are losing access to the past. Ginsberg effectively forces us to contemplate the impact of this new world on ourselves, and by including Whitman in the poem, Ginsberg allows the speaker to explore the values of the transcendentalists and their pursuit of a truer self as a way to redeem himself in this new alienating world. From the very start the poem, the words that the speaker uses to describe his surroundings illustrate Ginsberg’s point of how alienating modern America can be. The speaker refers to the supermarket as artificial and “neon”; he is horrified by, “Aisles full of husbands! Wives in the avocados, babies in the tomatoes!” (XX). Ginsberg describes the families of this America as violating what he believes to be the natural…

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