Both ‘Two Scavengers’ and ‘Nothing’s Changed’ are protesting against issues of discrimination between different classes of society and different races. In ‘Two Scavengers’ Ferlinghetti is protesting against the inequalities within a democracy, and how it’s not democratic but more ruled by class. In ‘Nothing’s Changed’ we are shown Africa when the apartheid law was still in place and a protest about the way black people are treated there.
The imagery used by both poets highlights there protests against the unfairness of society. Two Scavengers’ is set in San Francisco which is meant to be a democratic society however there is a ‘small gulf in the high seas of this democracy. ‘ The use of this metaphor emphasizes how society is still ruled by class. Ferlinghetti says the gulf is ‘small’ which indicates it should be easy to cross the over to a democratic society. However, paired with ‘the high seas’, it becomes hard to cross. It is dangerous to try and break out of the different classes and it is easier and almost safer to remain in the same kind of society.
Two Scavengers In A Truck Poem Analysis
The use of the word ‘democracy’ is sarcastic, there shouldn’t be a ‘gulf’ in a ‘democracy’, especially in a place like ‘San Francisco’ that should keep everyone equal. Similarly there is an invisible divide in apartheid Africa, shown in ‘Nothing’s Changed’, where although ‘No sign says it is’ they still ‘know where they belong. ‘ Apartheid is over when the poem had been written, however, like in ‘Two Scavengers’ there is still inequality between the two classes of people. The white people still believe that the black people don’t belong there. It highlights the invisible divide between the two cultures.
It is meant to be equal now however the black people realize that the white people don’t want them and ‘know where they belong. ‘ Afrika uses himself in first person to speak for the whole group using the word ‘we’. He’s speaking up for the black people and although they are angry at is they accept it. Even though it’s not a law anymore and there is ‘no sign’ the divide between them is great. Furthermore Ferlinghetti uses a simile to compare one of the ‘garbage men’ to a ‘gargoyle Quasimodo’. Quasimodo was an ugly character but had a very good heart.
This shows that although today society is mostly ruled by appearances, inside some people there can be kindness and compassion. A ‘gargoyle’ is used to scare away evil in churches. It shows that the man protects the city by keeping it clean. He may seem insignificant and ‘Quasimodo’ like, but without him the ‘cool couple’ wouldn’t be living in a clean city. Likewise Afrika may be suggesting that the black people are like ‘purple flowering, amiable weeds’. Weeds always come back, and can only be removed by properly digging up the roots. This suggests that the black people have roots in Africa and refuse to be taken away.
Since the weeds are ‘amiable’ it suggests they are friendly. The juxtaposition of calling weeds amiable highlights that appearances can be deceiving and although the black people may be ‘trodden on’ they will still come back stronger each time. In both poems, Ferlinghetti and Afrika use the materials plastic and linen to accentuate the difference between rich and poor. It again shows that although there should be no difference because of race and class it still exists. In ‘Two Scavengers’ the garbage men are wearing ‘red plastic blazers’ as opposed to the ‘linen suit’ the man in the Mercedes is wearing.
This links to ‘Nothing’s Changed’ where the poorer ‘working man’s cafi? ‘ has a ‘plastic table’s top’, whereas in the white peoples cafi? ‘linen falls’ off the table. Plastic is a cheap material that is considered unattractive. However it is very hard to tear and break which shows that although society and race considers them to be poorer than everyone else, they are stronger than others. Linen is more associated with richer, well off people. It is malleable and can be shaped into almost anything. This suggests that the richer, higher people in society do what they can to fit in. They change themselves to fit what society demands.
In both poems it shows that the richer people have a lot of linen, more than what they need. The man has a ‘three-piece linen suit’ and in the cafi? in ‘Nothing’s changed’ excess linen ‘falls’ from the table. This shows that although it’s not needed the well off people need to show that they can afford it, and that they are better off than other people. The poets both structure the poems in different ways to get through there protest against inequality in there society. Ferlinghetti has no punctuation throughout the poem except for the comma in the title. The comma could stress the separation between rich and poor and how different they are.
The lack of punctuation could show that the cycle is never-ending, and even though the democracy is there it is not enforced and therefore will always dictate how society is. The poem is also laid out in a fragmented way suggesting the broken nature of society. The haphazard lines could also illustrate how fragile democracy is, and how easily it could collapse. With the last word of the poem being ‘democracy’ it could also suggest that society is built on democracy yet along the way things have changed causing it to become easily collapsible. The lines also overlap but never touch which shows the social divide between both rich and poor.
In ‘Nothing’s Changed’ the title and the last line of the poem are the same. Throughout the poem Afrika is describing the way that although the apartheid law is no longer in place it still dictates the way society is run, showing that at the beginning of the poem nothing’s changed and then at the end still nothing’s changed. By using it as the title and the ending line of the poem it provides a visual image for the reader showing that things are still the same.
Also in the middle of the poem there is the two line stanza, ‘No sign says it is: but we know where we belong. It is almost separate from the rest of the poem which draws the readers attention to it. It could be that this is Afrika’s main point of the poem so he deliberately draws our attention to it. Both poems show the injustice in the society they live in, and how although the divide was abolished it is still there, invisible but prominent. In ‘Two Scavengers’ the only thing separating the ‘cool couple’ from the ‘garbage men’ is the jobs they do. Both the man in the Mercedes and the young garbageman wear ‘sunglasses’, are ‘about the same age’ and have ‘long’, ‘shoulder-length’ hair.
They are both similar yet because of social class the garbage man is considered ugly. This makes us consider the fact that they aren’t interchangeable. One of them has money and the other doesn’t and although that is only a little detail, in a society ruled by class is become a big one. In ‘Nothing’s Changed’ the ‘amiable weeds’ are being outgrown by the ‘Port Jackson trees’. They are both plants yet because the tree’s are better looking, and considered less troublesome they become better than the weeds, indicating the white people are better than the black people.