Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson


Gunpowder blooms before your eyes, each grain glides through the air. Over the hill, a blanket of red steadily marches in your direction, distant drums thud. Sweat beams colorful rays of light, screams pierce the air from every direction, than, darkness. The book Forge, Laurie Halse Anderson talks about the revolutionary war, a time of constant suffering, cold winters, unbearable summers, and subpar living conditions plaguing the Patriots on their march to freedom. Curzon, an African American born into slavery is forced to join the army, discriminated upon because of his ethnicity. Through this, Anderson utilizes a combinations of characters suffering, and conflict to convey her emotions towards discrimination.

Anderson emphasizes the constant suffering of the characters throughout Forge, Curzon experiencing countless examples of discrimination in his odyssey to live a free man. Other soldiers see him as less than a man, and when Curzon encounters such soldiers, he gets furious,  countering their remarks to defend himself, and his pride. Curzon’s willingness to speak up for himself, and cool head executing these actions are Anderson's indications that slavery is something one should speak up to, and be willing to put an end to. She urges that slavery, and discrimination are topics that one should get mad over in order to put a stop to, not only causing suffering, but death as well. Furthermore, this anger, and frustration regarding slavery aren’t replicated in other African Americans in the book, and most never even mentioning their opinions on the matter, allowing the suffering to be relentless. Also, characters like Isabel are seen to have endured a great deal of pain, therefore begins to grow silent. However, when introduced to Curzon, and witnessing his will to gain freedom, follows his lead and rebels against her master. Because of this, Anderson reminds us that we’re not alone in our struggle to abolish discrimination, others with the same feelings there to help eliminate the prejudice.

Next, Anderson indicates her hate towards discrimination when Curzon is once again forced into working as a slave for his former master, Bellingham. While serving his master, Curzon finds out that Isabel, the one person he loves, is trapped with a mechanical device by Bellingham, unable to escape. The key is with the master, therefore nearly impossible to be free. However, Curzon’s determined to reach freedom, even if it means death. He devises a intricate plan to escape with Isabel when the Continental Army leaves to fight the British, while everyone is seeing them off. During the wait, Isabel mentions to Curzon about these ghosts that haunt her, giving her a feeling of when something will turn out wrong. These ghosts are Anderson’s expression towards slavery, inhumane, unnatural, horrifying, and being fictitious. In addition, the key to free Isabel is obtained by Curzon, and once Isabel is free, and the two march out of their “prison,” as free people, the key is thrown into a river, never to haunt them again. This is Anderson conveying that the agony, and grief associated with discrimination, and slavery are worth it in the end. A river's many differing scenes, and currents represent Curzons odyssey to obtain freedom, the many terrains a symbol of his fights to achieve this. Eventually, the pain is worth it, opening up to the ocean, a vast, seemingly endless space, portraying freedom.

Then, suffering and conflict are also shown in Miracle at St. Anna, by James McBride, where African American men are led to take Italy from the Germans. McBride demonstrates the negatives that are associated with discrimination, and suffering through the main character, Train, who goes through horrendous battles, and discriminatory white officers to fight for his freedom, symbolizing that prejudice is everywhere, even in war. Both Curzon, and Train endure war, and racism, and stands against it, refusing to drone it out, and and stand up for what they believe in. Because of the constant reminders to the reader that slavery causes pain, and the first hand experiences that the characters undergo, its thoroughly understood that any form of discrimination is inhumane. In addition, Miracle at St. Anna features a dark and gritty atmosphere, scenes are painted as bleak, exempt of vibrant colors or features. The story is based in a mountainous region, forests and lakes surrounding the village where the soldiers are camping. This further exemplifies McBride's theme, slavery being a dark, and barbarous. free of any form of joy, or happiness. Finally, the "miracle" that happens to the soldiers occur when they are lost in the mountainous region, hundreds of miles away from base, and therefore miles away from their captors, free of discrimination. McBride suggests that once slavery is gone positive things like feelings and objects are able to emerge.

Laurie Halse Anderson expresses that all discrimination is cruel, backed up with the constant suffering, and conflicts that Curzon encounters. Also, James McBride states that discrimination is everywhere, even in war, where life is looked down upon. The messages that these two authors convey are significant to improving the future, through discrimination becoming extinct, pain, suffering, and wars are eliminated. Do you think McBride, and Anderson’s various forms of symbolism are effective in conveying their main idea?

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