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Identity of African American

            The three poems relate a lot to society when the authors lived and they all reflected their view of their African American identity in their poems, either by 1st person or 3rd person choice of speaker. Their use of tone and speaker is very effective. From these three poems, the feelings of the black for struggling for freedom, how they are shocked by racist and their desire to love and compassion for all races above racial hatred are completely presented.
             In "hard rock returns to the prison from the hospital for the criminal insane" by Etheridge Knight using the first person voice ("we"), the author is close to the subject, but not obvious emotionally involved with a depressed tone.
             To the poet, Hard Rock epitomizes freedom. Hard Rock was, at one time, the living example of a free man imprisoned. Hard Rock "is known not to take no shit/from nobody " (Etheridge 891). and "he had the scars to prove it" (Etheridge 891). So we can say Hard Rock is his own person--a "free man," though imprisoned. Unable to bear this, "the doctors had bored a hole in his head, /Cut out part of his brain, and shot electricity/ through the rest" (Etheridge 891). The doctors had not cut off Hard Rock's legs to restrict his movement--his movement was already restricted in "the violent space," "the Hole"--; instead, they cut out his brain to restrict his free thinking. His spirit suddenly "was really tame/ . . . a screw who knew Hard Rock/From before shook him down and barked in his face/And Hard Rock did nothing. Just grinned and looked silly./His eyes empty like knot holes in a fence" (Etheridge 892). Hard Rock, the Black man whom they believed could not be smashed, is suddenly broken: " . . . we turned away, our eyes on the ground. Crushed. /He had been our Destroyer, the doer of things/We dreamed of doing but could not bring ourselves to do" (Etheridge 892). Here the author used the depressed voice to express the regret for Hard rock who has been broken, eventually, by the overpowering forces in an oppressive society.

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