The Migrant (by A.L. Hendriks) In-Depth Analysis and Critical Evaluation

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Background of the Poet

  • Jamaican poet, writer and director
  • Contributed as a literary critic to the The Daily Gleaner

Structure and Rhyme Scheme

  • Six stanzas of varying lengths. This could depict the nature of an airplane journey – or generally, of life – where there are many ‘ups and downs’ and travelling through life isn’t a uniform or orderly experience, and therefore there is no standardised length of each stanza.
  • No rhyme scheme. Again, this could emphasise how life is not an orderly or uniform experience.

Title

  • ‘The’, and therefore not a personalised title. This could be used because there are many migrants, and thus could relate to a more generalised title.
  • Alternatively, this could be mentioned because the girl’s identity doesn’t matter. All that matters is that she has now been classified and labelled as a ‘Migrant’, and almost has lost all sense of individualism. Instead, she has become a label and a statistic.

Themes

  • Travelling and migration
  • Loss of character and individuality
  • Standardisation
  • Contrast between cultures
  • The journey and transitional ideals of life — being ‘in transit’

Language Analysis and Critical Appreciation

  • ‘…not remember’: She doesn’t remember because it doesn’t matter anymore. All that matters is that she is ‘travelling’. This is because her past has now been rendered insignificant.
  • ‘…voyage’: A very long journey. Instructing use of word. Expand on this. Uses this word instead of journey, perhaps to emphasise how this is a life-long journey rather than something temporary or experienced temporarily.
  • ‘Her country of origin, or if someone had paid of the passage’: These facts do not matter, even though conventionally they WOULD matter. This is because now she has been stripped of identity and instead labelled as a ‘Migrant’. All that matters now is where she is headed. Alternatively, could be because she must now look forward instead of dwelling on the past. Anaphora used to include almost a list of examples of what she does not remember or what has now been rendered as insignificant.
  • ‘…no recollection’: Again, that she doesn’t remember. All that she knows is that now she must adapt to her new environment. Going through metamorphosis, perhaps.
  • ‘…had travelled’: All that matters.
  • ‘…broken to her’: Interesting word that it was ‘broken’ to her – as if something inside of her broke. As if it came as a shock that she must travel once more again, right when she felt at home and settled. This also shows the unexpected reality of life.
  • ‘…in transit’: Always and forever travelling.
  • ‘…Bound’: Interesting word. As if she has no choice of whether to go or not. This is unconditional and nonnegotiable. This makes it bound to her, and thus the word has been used.
  • ‘…Committed’: Again, this essentially serves the same purpose as the word ‘bound’. The poet is using multiple words to portray such ideas, e.g. she is bound, she has now been committed, even though she didn’t decide to travel so herself.
  • ‘…realization sharpened’: As if her realisation was tangible and ‘sharp’ — also as if her thoughts were previously obscured and blurry, but they had sharpened and now she became more aware and experienced an epiphany — an almost disillusionment. She has now acknowledged the reality of her situation.
  • ‘…piteous how, saddened,’: Anaphora. To separate the word ‘saddened’ from the rest of the sentence, also note how it stands alone, as if it is this singular emotion that we feel for her and we sympathise with her lonely position. Also, above all, we just simply feel terribly sad that she must continue in transit. Enforces, again, her identity of being a migrant (instead of a name or anything).
  • Also it’s important to note that the gender is ‘she’. This could be because women are arguably more effected by migration and the feminisation of poverty/internally displaced persons. Alternatively, simply because women could be said to be the historically disadvantaged or undermined sex and therefore to emphasise the sympathy we feel for her.
  • ‘…inescapable’: Again, emphasising the unconditionality of her situation. She has no decision. She must go.
  • ‘…Gaudy, competition, plentiful’: Uses asyndeton. This is to equally emphasise this almost catalogue of words which are describing the brochures she holds. Uses anaphora to almost list the ideas of what she thinks about said brochures.
  • ‘…onward journey’: Important line because, again, we see that she must only focus on what is coming next and not dwell into past events of her origin, for instance.
  • ‘…new’: New language, culture, and way of life. This shows the differences and almost draws a contrast between different countries and areas in the world and different customs and values endorsed in both contrasting places.
  • ‘…strange currency’: Strange is an interesting word. Something new; something different. Currency could denote that she stores money of the other country in her breast pocket. Alternatively, currency could symbolise just about anything of the future country she is migrating to: this could be the values, way of life, anything really — elements. Stuffing this into her bosom could mean that she is accepting this in her heart.
  • ‘…dreading’: Even though she is doing all of these preparatory things, she still dreads and fears having to go because she doesn’t know what this ultimately means for her and she is apprehensive that what if she will be travelling for the rest of her life — will she ever find a home? We sympathise with her, yet again.
  • ‘…We watch’: We are watching in an almost congregation of people in a line, her, alone, going through life and travelling through the different stages of life. This could also mean that people must travel through certain experiences alone. Also, how people are constantly watching and scrutinising others as they move along the journey of life.
  • ‘…own documents’: We also have identification and watching her reminds us of the journey that we ourselves are on.
  • ‘…Shuffle forward in the queue’: The ending is warped with the realisation that we ourselves are in the queue of a journey, and therefore we, ourselves, are migrants. This could be on a symbolical reference to life as a whole and the different things we experience – and thus we are always travelling from one experience to another experience in life and thus we are always ‘…in transit’ ourselves. Also this could alternatively denote how travelling is a communal experience where everyone is usually facing their own personal issues. In addition, alternatively, a contrast is drawn between the lone girl ‘…unutterably lonely’ and ‘We’, where we have each other however this migrating girl has no one but ourselves and thus causes us to further sympathise with her all the while.
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