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Tropic of Rhetoric

Language and Literature at Seminole State College

Professor Kelli McBride

"Cherries" by Lucien Stryk  (Annotation by Kelli McBride)

 

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ENG 1113

ENG 1213

-Text Analysis

-Logical Fallacies

-Finding Truth

-Problem-Solution

 

ENG/HUM 2543

ENG/HUM 2413

ENG/HUM 2433

Supplemental Readings

Copyright Kelli McBride 2003-2011

Graphics designed by Kelli McBride and are for her exclusive use.

Handouts for college classes maybe used as per fair use practice.  All other documents on this site written by Ms. McBride are copyright protected.  Please email her for rights to use.

 

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click on links for more information and check out the supplement page for more background.

 

Cherries

by Lucien Stryk

 

Because I sit eating cherries

which I did not pick

a girl goes bad under

 

the elevator tracks, will

never be whole again.

Because I want the full bag,

 

grasping, twenty-five children

cry for food. Gorging,

I’ve none to offer. I want

 

to care, I mean to, but not

yet, a dozen cherries

rattling at the bottom of my bag.

 

One by one I lift them to

my mouth, slowly break

their skin—twelve nations

 

bleed. Because I love, because

I need cherries, I

cannot help them. My happiness,

 

bought cheap, must last forever.

 

 


1. "CHERRIES" - Chekhov’s short story “Gooseberries” is Stryk’s inspiration for this poem. Read a summary and analysis of “Gooseberries” at SparkNotes: http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/chekhov/section8.rhtml. For the story itself, go here: http://www.ibiblio.org/eldritch/ac/gooseb.html.

2. "I" - Look at how often the speakers uses “I” in this short poem. What does that mean?

3. "PICK" -  Why is it significant that he didn’t pick the cherries. How many of us do pick our own cherries?

4. "GOES BAD" - What does it mean to “go bad” when referring to fruit and when referring to people?

5. "ELEVATOR TRACKS" - Stryk lived in Chicago whose transit system includes an elevated train. The “elevator tracks” might be referring to the sections of the train that are elevated.

6. "GRASPING" - Who is grasping? The narrator? The children? Both? Note the difference in why each are grasping.

7. "I MEAN TO" - By saying he wants and means to care, what does that tell us about his state of enlightenment, of his awareness of what’s going on in the world? Does this make his actions even more reprehensible? How is he reflective of the average experience/existence of people in America?

8. "BUT NOT YET" - After this phrase, he mentions the cherries left at the bottom of the bag. Does that mean he won’t care until he has nothing to give? Will that provide him with an excuse not to care – “I would give, but I have nothing myself” kind of thinking?

9. "BLEED" - What happens when we bite into or cut up cherries? How is this connected to bleeding?

10. "I NEED CHERRIES" - He doesn’t just “love” cherries – he “needs” them. What is the difference in the two feelings? And what do these cherries potentially represent in America?

11. "MY HAPPINESS BOUGHT CHEAP" - Why is it “bought cheap”?

12. "MUST LAST FOREVER" - What kind of life view seeks eternal happiness? How realistic is this?

 

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