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“The Bean Eaters” by Gwendolyn Brooks Essay

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Updated: Feb 2nd, 2022

Summary

The poem, “The Bean Eaters” portrays the old couple’s poor state they live in alongside how they are fighting to be alive despite all their difficulties. Some visible hardships include their old age, poor diet but live with positivism. Their household materials are as old as they are. The couple feeds on beans most of the time and considers dinner as a casual activity. Their endurance, humility, and perseverance portray them as people with a positive attitude.

Analysis

The couple’s lifestyle is extraordinarily straightforward as portrayed in the first stanza of the poem. For instance, beans are their main meal simply because they do not have the energy to cook any heavy or more complicated meal. From the poem, dinner is considered a casual or a luxurious meal. The couple prefers to eat a soft meal that does not require much time and force to prepare. Therefore, beans are soft, and the most appropriate meal for them since their teeth are weaker and might fall if in contact with hard items. Their dishes are old and unsophisticated. On the other hand, the couple has lived for several years with the same utensils. Their cutlery is blunt as stated in stanza 1, line 3 “plain chipware” (Brooks). This means that they live an ordinary life, but still there is a need to replace their dishes. Their dinner table is as old as they are and this is depicted by the sound it produces any time it is moved, or something is placed on it. In stanza 1, line 3, the term “creaking wood” is a symbol of old and weak (Brooks). The couple places their old dishes on the worn-out table, which is risky because the food might fall due to lack of stability.

The tone of stanza 2 portrays kindness, love, endurance, and humility. The old couple has lived together for many years taking care of each other’s problems. The poet brings out their character as remarkably good (Brooks, stanza 2, line 1). Endurance and perseverance is also portrayed in stanza 2, “Two who have lived their day” (Brooks). In real life, many people fail to satisfy the needs of their partner, and may end up splitting, which is not the case with the couple. The couple talked about by the poet never gives up because they keep putting on their clothes (Brooks, stanza 2 line 3). No matter how hard life may be they still, look positive with sizeable strength to carry on with their lives.

Conclusion

The long last line suggests that the couple lived a poor life. The things they have saved are not worth savings; they are just leftover. They are the remnants of their lives. These materials may not generate a lot of income for them. This is because few people may wish to purchase their saved clothes and tobacco crumbs.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "“The Bean Eaters” by Gwendolyn Brooks." February 2, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-bean-eaters-by-gwendolyn-brooks/.

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IvyPanda. (2022) '“The Bean Eaters” by Gwendolyn Brooks'. 2 February.

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