Down, Death: A Funeral Sermon Essay

Total Length: 935 words ( 3 double-spaced pages)

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Page 1 of 3

The sermon is evidently being delivered to a black congregation. The suffering of Sister Caroline is shown to be uniquely black in nature because of the references to her suffering in the vineyards (cotton fields) for long, hot hours. Sister Caroline has furrows of care in her brow because of the suffering that is part of the African-American condition. Life is so hard that death is shown as a respite. In contrast to the elevated language of "Go Down, Death: Funeral Sermon," the poem "Incident" is short and pithy. It directly addresses the subject of race, detailing how the poet was called a racial slur as a child, by a boy her own age. The poet describes herself as excited about going to Baltimore but her innocence is quickly shattered. The brevity of the poem underlines the fact that being called the 'n-word' was all she could remember of her trip to the city, from May to December. This suggests the utterly life-altering nature of race in a far more direct fashion than "Go Down, Death: Funeral Sermon." It shows racism from the eyes of a child, who is angry about the world's condition vs. depicting an elderly woman who is resigned to the fact that her life is coming to an end and who hopes for a better life to come.

Question 4

The motivations of Abigail Williams of The Crucible change end evolve over the course of the play. At first, Abigail acts 'possessed' because she is afraid of being accused of practicing witchcraft herself, when her harmless divination with Tituba goes awry and causes herself and the other young participants to go into hysterics.
Abigail claims to be bewitched rather than admit she was trying to discover the identity of her future husband. Then, Abigail begins to accuse women of being witches as a source of personal power: she exercises authority over the other girls in the band of accusers and gains respect in a town where she was always shunned as loose. She begins to use her power as an accuser in a more directed fashion, turning her venom against John Procter's wife Elizabeth, in hopes of winning Proctor. When Mary Warren, a girl in the Proctors' employ begins to question her role as an accuser in the band of 'possessed girls, Abigail uses her power as an accuser to bring Mary back into the fold by accusing Mary of witchcraft. Finally, Abigail vents her anger at Proctor's rejection of her by accusing him of witchcraft. There is also a final motivation that may be less conscious on Abigail's part -- the simple motivation of the fact that the lie has grown too big to recant and the girls (including Abigail) have come to believe they are possessed, because of….....

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