The language used in “The Parents” by Kelly Cherry is very poetic, reflecting the prose poetry genre of the text. The choice of words is simple but often metaphorical and symbolic.

As a prose poem, the text is written in the narrative mode. Free indirect speech is also used, as quotes are not signaled by quotation marks: “Oh, spare the child, for next come the floats! See Mickey Duck! See Donald Mouse! Snow White rides in her pumpkin carriage…” (p. 47, ll. 4-6)

The interjection “oh” and the exclamation marks further help the author give the text a poetic tone. Imagery is used to describe the setting and the characters in a more vivid way:


Similes and metaphors

The author describes elements of the parade using a simile (comparison) — “batons fly, flash against the sky like lightning rods” (p. 47, ll. 3-4). Another simile is used at the end of the text, comparing the darkness in the coffin with darkness in a movie house: “It is as dark as a movie house” (p. 47, l. 25).

Some metaphors (implicit comparisons and associations) appear in the text as well. The children’s development from babies to teenagers is described metaphorically:



Several repetitions make the text more poetic and give it pathos (emotional language). The words “babies, blue-eyed babies, brown-eyed babies” (p. 47, ll.1-2, ll. 7-8) are used twice in the text. This repetition along with the repetition of the word “babies” (5 times) separately is meant to ...



A number of elements are used with a symbolic purpose in the text.

The parade can be seen as a symbol of social life. We go through life as if in a parade, showing off our youth, our families, and our children: “Snow White rides in a pumpkin carriage faster, faster, speeding toward marriage with the prince who will give her babies, blue-eyed babies, brown-eyed babies, like our own babies…” (p. 47, ll. 5-8)


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