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Audre Lorde

Wednesday, September 26, 2007 Textual analysis for “The Forth of July” In the essay “The Fourth of July” Audre Lorde shares a story about a young black girl, herself, who struggles to find the answers to why her parents did not explain why things are the way they are or why they do not stand up for themselves. In the story the young girl and her family, which consists of her older sister and her parents, are taking a trip to Washington D. C. They are taking this trip because her sister, Phyllis, did not get a chance to go when her class went in 8th grade because she is black and they would not let her stay in the hotel.

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Her father told her that they would take a family trip later on so she would not be upset. This trip was not just a normal family vacation it was an eye opening experience for her. Lorde expresses racism and the different issues that pop up through different instances in the story and different experiences she faces. Lorde also expresses the silence theme a lot in her story. Throughout the story you can see that Lorde uses words like “white” and “bright” which represents white people. Everything around them is white and they are colored.

The “silence” issue is also apparent throughout the story. She talks about how the girls’ parents keep things from her and never explain why, like when they had to ride the night train she thought it was just because it was cheaper but the real reason was because it was easier to deal with because of their race. I think they did not tell her things because they wanted her to grow up on her own and learn through experience which she did. Also she says “whatever my mother did not like and could not change, she ignored.

Perhaps it would go away, deprived of her attention” (Lorde 567). This is talking about ignoring the situation and the parents just want to blend in with the rest of the crowd. They do not want it to be any different because they are black so they just ignore whenever something goes wrong. This corresponds with different situations where people do not speak up when they should and they just end up blending in with the crowd and sometimes blending in with the wrong crowd.

If you do not voice your opinion sometimes people have the wrong impression of you and just figure you are on the opposing side. In the story she says “The first time I went to Washington D. C. , was on the edge of the summer when I was supposed to stop being a child” (Lorde 567). There comes a time when every kid stops being a child and learns what the real world is about. Her graduation from 8th grade was supposed to be her ending point of childhood. That is why her parents took her on this trip so she could see what things are really like out in the world.

She didn’t understand why her parents did not stand up for themselves like for instance at the ice cream shop when they were told they could not eat inside they just got up and left and did not fight for it. She did not understand why they just left and did not say anything. I think they were trying to teach her that sometimes you just have to do what everyone wants you to do so you do not cause more trouble for yourself. This is a hard concept for a little girl to understand.

She says “I was squinting because I was in that silent agony that characterized all of my childhood summers, from the time school let out in June to the end of July, brought about my dilated and vulnerable eyes exposed to the summer brightness” (Lorde 569). What she is talking about here is the brightness, or the whiteness, of what she saw that summer and her eyes being dilated and her squinting took away the whites of her eyes only showing the dark part. That represents her growing up and becoming more a part of her own culture and not just blending in with the crowd.

Now she knows who she is and she is trying to cope with that and adjust. Audre Lorde does a good job of expressing herself through symbols as in the brightness of the sunlight and everything around them and also through the racism and silence themes. She has a deeper meaning than what is on the surface of her story. You have to really look deep inside the story to get everything out of it that she put in. Although you may have a different perspective on what you think Lorde means by all these different symbols she shares, you can get out of it whatever you want.

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