Poem Analysis for “MR.Z” by M. Carl Holman
Discrimination of the black people was particularly evident in America in the past because the race was primarily considered as a slave society. Because of discrimination, society determined what a person did, where he or she went, and what facility he or she used. For example, the blacks and whites used different roads facilities and event vehicles. The poem Mr. Z by M. Carl Holman is about an African American man who does things that only the white people could do. This is because he is desperate to fit into the society. Mr. Z’s wife is also converted in this struggle as they both try to run away from their race. The poem explains how he does that, what he does to accomplish it and the poet’s opinion on Mr. Z’s action. The poet uses different tools like metonymy, plot, irony and diction to justify his claims.
There is the use of metonymy in this poem by Holman. Metonymy is the use of a word or object to explain another. The poet uses metonymy to express how Mr. Z and his wife were struggling to change from their origins. This means that the poet is trying to justify his accusations on Mr. Z’s dissatisfaction. An example in the poem “taught early that his mother’s skin was a sign of error” (Holman 1). This phrase means that people with Mr. Z’s skin color were perceived to have a problem. Another example is, “his wife had somewhere lost her Jewishness” (Holman 14). The poet uses this phrase to explain that Mr. Z’s wife had changed her character in order to be like the other people. The poet also writes, “Where hosts catered for kosher accent or exotic skin” (Holman 20). In this phrase, the poet tries do explain that Mr. Z avoided places that were meant for his ethnicity.
The writer also uses irony to explain Mr. Z’s struggles. For example, the writer shows Mr. Z’s failure to fit in by the use of irony when he writes, “One of the most distinguished members of his race” (Holman 26). This means that, even after Mr. Z’s death, people still saw him as part of the tribe he was trying so hard to avoid. The writer also explains the people’s perception of the changes Mr. Z and his wife were trying to make. For example, “prelate proclaimed them matched chameleon” (Holman 16). This means that people saw Mr. Z and his wife as chameleons because of the changes they were making. The final use of irony is seen when the poet explains the difference in the wife. “His bride had somewhere lost her Jewishness” (Holman 14).
Another tool used by the poet is diction. Diction is the use of vocabularies to describe a word in poetry. For example, “of pork in its profane forms he was wary” (Holman 10). This phrase means that Mr. Z. was tired of eating pork and its products. The poet also uses, “his plate shrank from cornbread, yams and collards” (Holman 12). This phrase is used to mean that he stopped eating cornbread, yams and collards. Finally, the poet writes, “they shunned all places where they might be barred” (Holman 18). This phrase means Mr. Z and his wife did not visit places where they felt they were not welcome.
The poet uses a plot, which is the arrangement of events. The poet uses this tool to portray the stages Mr. Z underwent to change his origin. “Taught early that his mother’s skin was the sign of error” (Holman 1). This means that since he was a boy, Mr. Z Always knew that the black community was treated poorly. “Won scholarships, attended the best schools” (Holman 3). This he did so that he could be in the same level with those who discriminated him. “In diet, too, his practice was exemplary” (Holman 9). This means that Mr. Z acquired new eating habits.
There is the use of tone in this poem to express the poet’s feelings towards Mr. Z. From the poem, a person can tell that the author is not happy with Mr. Z’s actions. This is seen in how the poet describes his actions “chose prudent, race less views of each situation” (Holman 5). Another phrase that portrays the poet’s tone is how he describes Mr. Z’s wife. “His bride has somewhere lost here Jewishness” (Holman 14). The poet’s tone is also portrayed when he describes how Mr. Z struggled. “And so he climbed, unclogged by ethnic weights” (Holman 21). The poet uses tone in his poem to explain his feelings or opinion on the situation.
There is also the use of point-of-view, which the poet uses to express how much he knows Mr. Z. From this tool, it is clear that that Holman knows the Mr. Z well because he knows everything Mr. Z. did on his quest to change. “Taught early that his mother’s skin was a sign of error” (Holman 1). “He was careful whom he chose to kiss” (Holman 13). “Not one false note was struck-until he died” (Holman 23). These phrases show that Holman knew Mr. Z well.
Finally, the poet uses character to demonstrate Mr. Z’s actions. In this poem, one can conclude that Mr. Z is a hard worker. “Won scholarships and attended the best schools” (Holman 3). “And so he climbed, unclogged by ethnic weights” (Holman 21). “Not one false note was struck- until he died” (Holman 23). From these phrases, one can conclude that Mr. Z did everything he could so that he could achieve his goal.
There is also the use of setting. From this poem, it is evident that the poet is writing about past events. For instance, one can say that discrimination in America happened years ago. “Taught early that his mother’s skin was a sign of error” (Holman 1). “Whatever ground was Anglo-Saxonized” (Holman 8). “They shunned places where they might be barred” (Holman 18). From these phrases, it is evident that there was discrimination in America. Discrimination is, however, not practiced currently. Therefore, one can conclude that this poet used an action from the past.
This poem portrays the poet’s knowledge of Mr. Z. From the poem, one can tell that the poet had so much information about Mr. Z. The poet is, however, not pleased with Mr. Z’s struggle to change his origin. From the poem, one can also tell that Mr. Z was determined to achieve his goal. From this poem, it also evident that Mr. Z’s wife is like him. This is because Mr. Z carefully picked her, and they did certain things together. Mr. Z’s wife does not also want to be associated with her origin, which is Jewish.
“Mr. Z by M. Carl Holman.” 123HelpMe.com. 2012. Web. 28 Jun 2013