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While reading “The Colonel”, one can realize that the author is narrating a brutal experience with the texts’ main character of interest while doing some jobs for Amnesty International in El Salvador. The poem is filled with pure horror, which forms the main basis of the…
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Yuheng Dai Mr Mathew Conley English 107A April/22 Essay 2(First drafts) Textual Analysis of the Colonel
While reading “The Colonel”, one can realize that the author is narrating a brutal experience with the texts’ main character of interest while doing some jobs for Amnesty International in El Salvador. The poem is filled with pure horror, which forms the main basis of the story. At the beginning of the text, the author assures her readers that what they have heard is true. But what have we heard? The setting is more of domestic, and one could think that nothing bizarre is going to unfold, until a pistol is mentioned lying on the cushion, and the broken bottles fixed on the walls, perhaps meant to cut a person’s hand. (Forche, 597)
From the few descriptions, these are just dead giveaways, and a visit will not be a pleasant one. Midway through the text, the author is seen been cruel to the parrot commanding it to shut up, as it storms away from the room. The Colonel returns to the room, with a grocery sack with him, but this time it is not full of groceries. It is filled with lots of chopped human ear – a horrific sign of lost lives. By now, the Colonel is seen being furious at the Americans, and those who threaten to expose human rights injustices. While the reader is still left in shock, suffocating from the graphic atmosphere of the text, it ends with the ear proverbially coming back to life. This implies that it is somehow able to behold Colonel’s crimes.
Right from the text’s title, “The Colonel”, one could tell that the poem would be about a man of high stature. Most particularly, about a person who is not going to allow you to forget that he is above everybody. Although, it is quite surprising that the Colonel does not get a name, and he is just being referred by his title. The author has tactfully used this approach, perhaps, to make the Colonel power look more generic. Forche strategically referred him as “the Colonel”, to mean that the Colonel was callous. However, the reference to the character’s position implies that the character is acting in the role of power, without any physical description. In this manner, the text’s title reminds the reader that we are not dealing with one callous leader, but rather the whole system structure, which would put people’s lives under one person with the power to harass them.
Back to the poem, the beginning of the text has started by describing the Colonel’s family atmosphere. This includes his wife, daughter and his son’s normal day activities. Because at the end of the day, all the family’s member can stay together, so at the start of story when we read, we can think this is should be a warm and sweet big family. And after that, we are told “There were daily papers, pet dogs, a pistol on the cushion beside him" (Forche, 597). This sentence uses clearly foreshadowing language, by showing the reader about the colonel’s life. Although the family looks like other families, although we are surprised to hear that the colonel has a pistol. As we all know, a general won’t carry it in a broad day light, but he did it. So when we read that, we have a picture that he is a rough and callous man. This is because he placed the pistol on the cushion beside him, illustrating that he can take the pistol at any time. Generally, normal people do always brandish pistols although colonel did it, showing that, this is not a normal family. Perhaps in their family, they have their own rules. Thereafter, the author went ahead to describe a dark atmosphere which was looming in the room, “The moon swung bare on its black cored over the house"(Forche, 597). This sentence is very vividly description of a serious atmosphere. And he also said “On the television was a cop show. It was in English” (Forche, 597) this sentence let us feel this family is really unusual, because unlike the general family, many families often play TV channels that are quite friendly to children such as; cartoons or entertainment programs. Moreover, at the end of a normal day, people are supposed to relax, although this different in the colonel home. Surprisingly, the TV channel is playing war-related programs, which shows that the colonel has gained control over his family. We are told by the author that the TV was showing in English, which gives us a hint that, perhaps the family was an English-speaking one.
Also in the sentence “The parrot said hello on the terrace. The colonel told it to shut up, and pushed himself from the table.” (Forche, 597) when we read this sentence, most of the people feel the colonel is a cruel and he is a no patient man. Even the small animal, cannot interrupt him. And the parrot just said a simple “Hello”, maybe the parrot is just too polite to greet guests in the home. But the Colonel threatened it to shut up. In fact, many people would think that the home of the small animal should be cute, but this cruel behavior let us feel perhaps the parrot was a nuisance to the colonel. Thereafter the author of the text goes ahead to write, “my friend said to me with his eyes: say nothing” (Forche, 597) this describes a serious and awkward atmosphere. Perhaps what the author wanted to say was immediately stopped by the colonel rude approach. This makes the reader to feel that the Colonel is a no-nonsense person, who would want anyone to interrupt him. This let us to understand the Colonel’s life, from the perspective of his friends, implying that he is normal frightening to his friends. From another angle this shows that the family is much more disciplined, as a reader could expect.
At the end of the story, the author writes, “I am tired of fooling around, he said”. The author is able to depict the Colonel’s lack of respect for the foreigners. (Forche, 597) She further writes, “Tell your people they can go and fuck themselves.” The Colonel contempt has gone overboard. Surprisingly, what makes the text to be intriguing is the irony of ears to come back to live, and go against the Colonel’s outrage. Even after the ears are thrown on the floor, they still go on with their symbolic summons. From these developments we get to learn that the colonel is not a very powerful man, but he is also very callous and unfriendly. Moreover, everybody in the Colonel’s family is noticeably silent, most particularly his wife who was went ahead to serve the dinner silently.
Upon the final analysis of the text, there is a strong sign that this is not only a poem. The text makes extensive use of various effects, both external and internal to ooze the feeling of a real horror, which the reader us left with. Through employing irony, repetition, similes, and metrical effects, the text brings the reader face-to-face with the callous Colonel. The reader is also able to understand the exact message the author is intending to relay. There is no doubt that reading “The Colonel” is like literally encountering what the author saw in that house.
Works Cited
Forche, “The Colonel”. Writing as Revision. Reprinted from the country between US (1980), Harper Collins pp. 597. Print Read More
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