“Homage to the Empress of the Blues”:

Hayden, Brooks, and Baldwin “Homage to the Empress of the Blues”:

1. Why is the poem entitled “Homage to the Empress of the Blues?” Explain. “Those Winter Sundays”:

2. What does the use of alliteration, as in “clothes,” “cold,” “cracked” (lines 2-3) and “blueblack,” “banked,” “blaze” (lines 2, 5) contribute to the poem? Explain. 3. What does the poem suggest about how the speaker felt about his father as a child versus as an adult? Explain.

4. What’s the significance and effect of the repetition of the phrase “what did I know” in line 13? Explain. “Frederick Douglass”:

5. In what repute or esteem is Douglass held today (Douglass is most remembered for his slave narrative Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass)? To what degree does the answer to that question depend on whom you consult, according to age, race, and political affiliation? “We Real Cool”:

6. Are the speaker’s idea of what is “cool” and the poet’s idea of what is “cool” the same? How do you derive your conclusion? Explain.

7. What do you make of Brooks’ declaration of why this poem was banned? “Sonny’s Blues”:

8. “Sonny’s Blues” contains a story within a story, the mother’s tale of the narrator’s father and his father’s brother. What is the significance of this story?

9. In the last scene, the narrator enters Sonny’s world for the first time. Explain the symbolism of the location, the jazz, and the drink. a. location b. jazz c. drink 10. We keep seeing the “jazz” motif in many of the works of this period. We’ve seen it in Invisible Man, in Brooks’ “We Real Cool,” and in Baldwin’s “Sonny Blues.” Explain how jazz’s role has changed throughout its use in the literature we’ve read thus far.

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