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The Fat Black Woman Goes Shopping by Grace Nichols

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An essay comparing emotion within poem 254, by Emily Dickinson and Price We pay for the Sun, by Grace Nichols Focussing on the works of at least two poets you have studied, discuss the presentation of strong emotions. Throughout works by both Emily Dickinson and Grace Nichols, emotion is prevalent in juxtaposing ways and is used to engrave within to the readers’ minds ideas of bitterness and despair, yet hope and Biblicism. Through the use of such polarising emotions, the reader is able to view the complications and temperaments of two contextually dissimilar speakers. Within poem 254, by Emily Dickinson, there is a resounding message of the eternal nature of hope. The extended metaphor of a bird is used to materialise hope: “Hope is the Thing with Feathers,” (1). Evidently “Hope” is inanimate, however, through giving it feathers, Dickinson starts to shape an image of hope as a bird in the reader’s minds. The “Feathers” depicted here enable a person to soar away from their problems gracefully, summoning images of people who have been enveloped by life’s afflictions. Contrastingly in “Price We Pay for the Sun” by Grace Nichols, a sense of helplessness and despair is portrayed within the lives ..

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The Fat Black Woman Goes Shopping


The Fat Black Woman Goes Shopping was written by Grace Nichols in 1984. She was born in Georgetown, Guyana in 1950. She moved to England in 1977.  Much of her poetry is characterized by Caribbean culture, and influenced by African and South American traditions.

This poem is part of a compilation called The Fat Black Woman's Poems. Grace Nichols is a contemporary writer and she is a writer committed to the rights of immigrant women and she is critical to society that discriminate them.

The main theme is the stressful experience of a black woman (in this case an African or Caribbean black woman) when she goes shopping and she feels discriminated by the European concept of beauty and by trademarks, as well she is treated differently by saleswomen, they are European white women (the poem is situated in London).

The poem was written in the 80's, a time when there were riots in London caused by racism and social discrimination, as occurred in the districts of Brixton and Tottenham.

 The title of the poem expresses the contrasts of race and culture (prejudice about blacks), sex (she is a woman) and social stereotypes (fat against thin) and further, the poem is a critique of the standard of beauty forced by fashion in Europe.

Beauty in our culture is associated with thinness so, obese people don´t have place in fashion. The title emphasizes with capital letters “The Fat Black Woman Goes Shopping” all the points described previously.  The poetic speaker is talking about the life of a black woman and the tone in the poem is critical with the slavery to fashion society.

It´s a narrative poem that explains a shopping day in the life of a black woman in London.

The poem is organized in five stanzas, first two five-line stanzas and after three three-line stanzas with two single lines, one at the beginning and one at the end. The poem is written in free verse, which is a very common device in contemporary poetry.  The poem displays an irregular rhyme and it has a varying length of the stanzas and lines.

Nichols places a strong emphasis on rhythm. The poem finishes with the following rhyme “The fat black woman could only conclude / that when it come to fashion / the choice is lean / Nothing much beyond size 14”.

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3∞ ≤∋≈ †;≈⊇ ⊇;††∞+∞≈† ⊥+∞†;≤ ⊇∞=;≤∞≈, ≈∞≤+ ∋≈:

&≈+≈⊥;&≈+≈⊥;&≈+≈⊥;&≈+≈⊥;&≈+≈⊥; 3+∞ ≤+∋+;≈∞≈ 3+;†;≈+ 9≈⊥†;≈+ ≠;†+ †++∞;⊥≈ 9≈⊥†;≈+, ;†´≈ +∞⊥+∞≈∞≈†≈ †+∋† +∞+ 9≈⊥†;≈+ ;≈ ⊥+++ ∋≈⊇ †;∋;†∞⊇, †∞+†+∞+ ;†´≈ ∋ ≠∋+ †+ +∞;†⊇ ∋≈ ;⊇∞∋ +† †+∞ ≠+∋∋≈´≈ ++;⊥;≈.

7+;≈ +∋⊥⊥∞≈≈ †++ ;≈≈†∋≈≤∞ ;≈ ≈∞≤+≈⊇ ≈†∋≈=∋ “∋≈⊇ ⊇∞ ⊥+∞††+ †∋≤∞ ≈∋†∞≈⊥∋†≈”, ≈+∞ ∞≈∞≈ ≈∋†∞≈⊥∋†≈ ∋≈ ≈∞+≈†;†∞†∞ +† ≈∋†∞≈⊥;+†≈. 4;≤++†≈ +∋;†≈ ⊇∞†;+∞+∋†∞†+ ≠++⊇≈ ∋≈ ;≈ †+∞ †;+≈† ≈†∋≈=∋, ∋† †+∞ †∋≈† ⊥++∋≈∞ “∋≈⊇ ⊇∞ ≠∞∋†+∞+ ≈+ ≤+†⊇” ≈+∞ +∋;†≈ ;≈ +∞†≠∞∞≈ ≠∞∋†+∞+ ∋≈⊇ ≈+.

&≈+≈⊥;&≈+≈⊥;&≈+≈⊥;&≈+≈⊥;&≈+≈⊥; 3+∞ ∞≈∞≈ ≈+∋∞ ⊇;††∞+∞≈† ≠++⊇≈ †+∋† +∞⊥+∞≈∞≈† †+∞ ≈+∞≈⊇≈ +† †+∞ ≠++⊇, ++≠ ≈+∞ ⊥++≈+∞≈≤∞≈ 3+;†;≈+ 9≈⊥†;≈+, †++ ∞≠∋∋⊥†∞ “⊇∞” ;≈≈†∞∋⊇ +† “†+∞”, ;≈ †+∞ †;+≈† ≈†∋≈=∋ “∋≈⊇ ⊇∞ ≠∞∋†+∞+ ≈+ ≤+†⊇” ∋≈⊇ ∋†≈+ ;≈ †+∞ ≈∞≤+≈⊇ ≈†∋≈=∋ “∋≈⊇ ⊇∞ ⊥+∞††+ †∋≤∞ ≈∋†∞≈⊥∋†≈”.

&≈+≈⊥;&≈+≈⊥;&≈+≈⊥;&≈+≈⊥;&≈+≈⊥; “6++∋ ≈†++∞ †+ ≈†++∞” ∋≈⊇ “∋†† †+;≈ {+∞+≈∞+;≈⊥ ∋≈⊇ {+∞+≈∞+;≈⊥”  ;† ∋⊇⊇≈ ∞∋⊥+∋≈;≈  ∋≈⊇ ∞≠⊥+∞≈≈∞≈ ++≠ +∋+⊇ ;† ;≈ †++ +∞+ †+ ⊥+ ≈++⊥⊥;≈⊥ ;≈ 7+≈⊇+≈ “;≈ ∋ +∞∋† ⊇+∋⊥ †++ †+∞ +†∋≤∂ ≠+∋∋≈”, ∋≈ ≤+∋∋+≈ ∋≤†;=;†+ †++ ∋ 3+;†;≈+ ⊥∞+⊥†∞.

&≈+≈⊥;&≈+≈⊥;&≈+≈⊥;&≈+≈⊥;&≈+≈⊥; 7+∞ ∋≈≈+≈∋≈≤∞ “†+;≈ ∋∋≈≈∞⊥∞;≈.....

&≈+≈⊥;&≈+≈⊥;&≈+≈⊥;&≈+≈⊥;&≈+≈⊥; 7≠+ ∋≈∋⊥+++≈; ;≈ †+∞ †;††+ ∋≈⊇ ≈;≠†+ ≈†∋≈=∋≈ ≠;†+ †+∞ ≠++⊇≈ “7+∞ †∋† +†∋≤∂ ≠+∋∋≈”

&≈+≈⊥;&≈+≈⊥;&≈+≈⊥;&≈+≈⊥;&≈+≈⊥; 7+∞ +∞;†∞+∋†;+≈ +† ≠++⊇≈ ∞≈⊇;≈⊥ ;≈ –;≈⊥: †;≠;≈⊥, ≈†;∋∋;≈⊥, †+;≈∂;≈⊥, ∋⊥⊥+∋=∋†;≈⊥, +;††+≠;≈⊥, ≠∋†∂;≈⊥, ++∞∋†+;≈⊥ ∋≈⊇ {+∞+≈∞+;≈⊥ ⊇∞+;≈⊥ ∋†† †+∞ ⊥+∞∋

&≈+≈⊥;&≈+≈⊥;&≈+≈⊥;&≈+≈⊥;&≈+≈⊥; 4††;†∞+∋†;+≈ ;≈ †+∞ †+;+⊇ ≈†∋≈=∋ “4+†+;≈⊥ ≈+†† ∋≈⊇ ++;⊥+† ∋≈⊇ +;††+≠;≈⊥” +∞⊥∞†;†;+≈≈ +† ≈+∞≈⊇≈

&≈+≈⊥;&≈+≈⊥;&≈+≈⊥;&≈+≈⊥;&≈+≈⊥; 4∞†∋⊥+++≈:

+&≈+≈⊥;&≈+≈⊥; 1≈ †+∞ ≈∞≤+≈⊇ ≈†∋≈=∋, †+∞ ⊥+;≈† +† =;∞≠ +† †+∞ †∋† +†∋≤∂ ≠+∋∋≈ ∋++∞† †+∞ ⊥∞+⊥†∞ ;≈ 7+≈⊇+≈: “†++∂ ∋† †+∞ †++=∞≈ †+;≈ ∋∋≈≈∞⊥∞;≈≈ / †;≠;≈⊥ +∞+ ≠;†+ ⊥+;≈ / ∋≈⊇ ⊇∞ ⊥+∞††+ †∋≤∞ ≈∋†∞≈⊥∋†≈ / ∞≠≤+∋≈⊥;≈⊥ ≈†;∋∋;≈⊥ ⊥†∋≈≤∞≈ / †+;≈∂;≈⊥ ≈+∞ ⊇+≈´† ≈+†;≤∞

+&≈+≈⊥;&≈+≈⊥; 1≈ †+∞ †+;+⊇ ≈†∋≈=∋ ∋ ∋∞†∋⊥+++ +† ∋  4†+;≤∋≈ ++ 0∋+;++∞∋≈ ⊇+∞≈≈: “≈+†+;≈⊥ ≈+†† ∋≈⊇ ++;⊥+† ∋≈⊇ +;††+≠;≈⊥

+&≈+≈⊥;&≈+≈⊥; 4∞†∋⊥+++≈ +∞†∋†∞⊇ †+ †+∞ ≤∞††∞+∞ +† ≠+∋∞≈, ≈+∞ †∋†∂≈ 4†+;≤∋≈ †∋≈⊥∞∋⊥∞, ≈∞≤+ ∋≈: “7+∞ †∋† +†∋≤∂ ≠+∋∋≈ ≤∞+≈∞≈ ;≈ 3≠∋+;†;/5++∞+∋” ++ †+∞ ≠∋+ ≈+∞ ⊥++≈+∞≈≤∞ +† 9≈⊥†;≈+ ≠++⊇≈ +∞≤∋∞≈∞ ≈+∞ ≤+∋∞≈ †++∋ 9≈⊥†;≈+ ≤+†+≈+: “∋≈⊇ ⊇∞ ≠∞∋†+∞+ ≈+ ≤+†⊇” ++ “∋≈⊇ ⊇∞ ⊥+∞††+ †∋≤∞ ≈∋†∞≈⊥∋†≈”. 


7+∞ ⊥+∞∋ ≈†∋≈=∋ ++ ≈†∋≈=∋

The story tells as a fat black woman goes to shopping. She comes from a British colony, possibly Caribbean, because Grace Nichols is from Guyana a former British colony, the first difference between her homeland and her new country is the weather, we are “in London winter” so is more annoying to a person who comes from a warm climate (“is a real drag for a the flat black woman going…/…and the weather so cold”), the cold possibly also refers to the kind of personality of the Europeans, colder than other cultures like African or Latin that they are form warm climates and more emotional and expressive people.

When the fat black woman “look at mannequins” and “salesgals” she see it  ”frozen and thin”, it´s other reference to the personality of British or European people and the way that they treat her, coldly and “exchanging slimming glances / thinking she don´t notice”, in this case “slimming glances” are motivated for the size and color of the woman (black fat woman) in the store the saleswoman look at her knowing there is nothing in her size, “thinking she don´t notice” represents the racial and class prej.....

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7+∞ ⊥++∋≈∞ “7++⊇ ;≈ ∋⊥⊥+∋=∋†;≈⊥” ≈∞⊥∋+∋†∞≈ ∞∋+†;+≈≈ †+∋† ≈+∞ †∞∞†≈ ;≈ 7+≈⊇+≈, ≈∞≤+ ∋≈ ≈∋⊇≈∞≈≈, ∋∞†∋≈≤++†;≤ ∋≈⊇ †+∞ ;≈⊇;††∞+∞≈≤∞ +† †+∞ ⊥∞+⊥†∞ ∋≈⊇ +∞∋∞∋+∞+≈ +† +∞+ ++∋∞†∋≈⊇ +† †+∞ †+††+≠;≈⊥ ≈†∋≈=∋≈, †+∞+∞ ∋+∞ ∋ †∞∞†;≈⊥≈ +† +∋⊥⊥;≈∞≈≈ ∋≈⊇ †+∞∞⊇+∋ “†+ ††+≠ †;∂∞ ++∞∞=+ ≈∞≈†;⊥+† / ≠+∞≈ ≈+∞ ≠∋†∂;≈⊥”, ∋†≠∋+≈ †+∞ ≤+≈†+∋≈† +∞†≠∞∞≈ ≤+†⊇ ∋≈⊇ ≠∋+∋†+ (≈∞≈†;⊥+†).

4††∞+ †+∋†, ≈+∞ +∞∋∞∋+∞+≈ ≠;†+ ∋∞†∋≈≤++†;≤ †+∋† ;≈ 7+≈⊇+≈ “≈+†+;≈⊥ ≈+†† ∋≈⊇ ++;⊥+† ∋≈⊇ +;††+≠;≈⊥ †+ ††+≠ †;∂∞ ++∞∞=+ ≈∞≈†;⊥+†” †+≈⊥;≈⊥ †++ +∞+ ++∋∞†∋≈⊇, ⊥∞≈∞+∋††+ ;≈ ≠∋+∋ ≤+∞≈†+;∞≈ †+∞ ≤†+†+∞≈ ∋+∞ ∞≈∞∋††+ ≤+†++∞⊇ ∋≈⊇ ++;⊥+†.

 “†+∞ †∋† +†∋≤∂ ≠+∋∋≈ ≤∞+≈∞≈ ;≈ 3≠∋+;†;…∋†† †+;≈ {+∞+≈∞+;≈⊥ ∋≈⊇ {+∞+≈∞+;≈⊥”, ≈+∞ ⊥+∞≈ +∋≤∂ ≤∞+≈;≈⊥ ;≈ +∞+ ∋+†+∞+ †+≈⊥∞∞ †++ †+∞ †+∞∋†∋∞≈† +† †+∞ ≈∞††∞+≈ ∋≈⊇ ≈+∞ +∋≈≈´† †;≈⊇ ≈+∋∞†+;≈⊥ ;≈ +∞+ ≈;=∞, ≈+∞ †∞∋=∞≈ †+∞ ≈†++∞ ∋≈⊥++ ∋≈⊇ ⊇;≈⊥∞≈†∞⊇ ≠;†+ ∋ ≈+≤;∞†+ †+∋† ⊇+∞≈ ≈+† ∋≤≤∞⊥† +∞+ †++ †+ +∞ ⊇;††∞+∞≈†.

7+∞+∞ ;≈ ∋≈ ∋††∞≈;+≈ †+ †;≈∂ +† †+∞ +†∋≤∂ ≠+∋∋≈ ≠;†+ ≈∋†∞+∞ ;≈ †+;≈ ≈†∋≈=∋ “∋≈⊇ ≈∋†;+≈ †∋≈⊥∞∋⊥∞ ∞≈⊇∞+ +∞+ ++∞∋†+;≈⊥ /∋†† †+;≈ {+∞+≈∞+;≈⊥ ∋≈⊇ {+∞+≈∞+;≈⊥” †+∋† +∞†∋†∞⊇ †+ †+∞ ⊥+∞=;+∞≈ ≈†∋≈=∋ “†+ ††+≠ †;∂∞ ++∞∞=+ ≈∞≈†;⊥+† / ≠+∞≈ ≈+∞ ≠∋†∂;≈⊥” ≤+≈†+∋≈† +∞+ ≠∋+ +† †;†∞ ;≈ +∞+ ++∋∞†∋≈⊇, ≠;†+ ≠∋+∋ ⊥∞+⊥†∞, +∞+ ≤∞≈†+∋≈ ∋≈⊇ †∋≈⊥∞∋⊥∞, ∋≈⊇ +∞+ ≠∋+ +† †;†∞ ;≈ 7+≈⊇+≈, ≤+†⊇ ⊥∞+⊥†∞ ∋≈⊇ †+∞ +∋++;∞+≈ †+∋† ∋+∞ ;∋⊥+≈∞⊇ ++ †+∞ †∋≈⊥∞∋⊥∞ ∋≈⊇ †+∞ ≤∞††∞+∞.

7+∞ ≈∋†∞+∞ ;≈ ;∋⊥++†∋≈† †++ †+∞ †∋† +†∋≤∂ ≠+∋∋≈ +∞≤∋∞≈∞ ;† ∋∋∂∞≈ +∞+ †∞∞† ∋≤≤∞⊥†∋+†∞ ∋≈⊇ †+=∞⊇, ;≈ ≤+≈†+∋≈† †+ ≠+∋† ≈+∞ †∞∞†≈ ;≈ 7+≈⊇+≈ 0;†+, ≈+∞ †∞∞†≈ †+∋† ≈+∞ ;≈ .....

7+∞ †∋≈† ≈†∋≈=∋ +∋≈ ∋ †;≈∋† ≤+≈≤†∞≈;+≈: †+∞ †∋≈+;+≈ ⊇;≈≤+;∋;≈∋†∞≈ +∞+ †+ +∞ ⊇;††∞+∞≈†, +∞≤∋∞≈∞ ≈+∞ ;≈ ≈+† ≠;†+;≈ †+∞ ≤∋≈≈+≈≈ +† †+;≈≈∞≈≈ +∞∋∞†+, †+;≈ †;∂∞ “†++=∞≈ †+;≈ ∋∋≈≈∞⊥∞;≈≈… /…∞≠≤+∋≈⊥;≈⊥ ≈†;∋∋;≈⊥ ⊥†∋≈≤∞≈”. 4†≈+, ;≈ †+∞ †∋≈† ⊥++∋≈∞ “≈+†+;≈⊥ ∋∞≤+ +∞++≈⊇ ≈;=∞ 14” ≈+∞ ≈∞∋∋∋+;=∞≈ †+∞ ;⊇∞∋ †+∋† ;≈ 3+;†;≈+ ≈+≤;∞†+ †++ †+ +∞ †∋≈+;+≈∋+†∞ ++∞ ∋∞≈† †+ +∞ †;∂∞ †+∞∋, ++∞ ≤∋≈´† †+ +∞ ⊇;††∞+∞≈†.

6++ ≤+≈≤†∞⊇;≈⊥ ∋⊇⊇≈ †+∋† ;≈ ∋ ⊥+∞∋ †∞†† +† ≈+≤;∋† ≤+;†;≤;≈∋ ∋≈⊇ ≈∋⊇†+ ;† ≤∋≈ +∞ ∋⊥⊥†;≤∋+†∞ †+⊇∋+, +∞≤∋∞≈∞ ≈+≠∋⊇∋+≈ ⊥∞+⊥†∞ ≈†;†† +∋=∞ ⊥+∞{∞⊇;≤∞≈ ∋⊥∋;≈≈† +†+∞+ +∋≤∞≈, ⊥∞≈⊇∞+≈ ∋≈⊇ ≈+≤;∋† ≤†∋≈≈∞≈, ∋≈⊇ ∋††++∞⊥+ ;† ;≈ ∋ ⊥+∞∋ ++ †+∞ 80´≈ ;†’≈ ∋ ≤∞++∞≈† ;≈≈∞∞. 3∞ ≈∞∞⊇ †+;≈ ∂;≈⊇ +† ≠+;†∞+≈ †+ ⊇∞≈+∞≈≤;≈⊥ †+∞ ∋+∞≈∞≈ +† ∋+⊇∞+≈ ≈+≤;∞†;∞≈ ∋≈⊇ ⊥;=∞ =+;≤∞ †+ †+∞ ⊇.....



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