Analysis of "The Fourth of July" Part 1

Cultural diversity is around our society. When it comes to the Fourth of July, every person has his or her own memory him or her experience during this special occasion. When Audre Lorde took a trip during the summer to Washington, D.C., she obtained her own memory and meaning of independence. In her essay she shares with readers a personally account of experiencing racism on a U.S. holiday when this is a day of joy and celebration. Lorde explains how she felt during the summer by using tone of voice, the repetition of words, and an ironic title.

The reader will know that this sentence shows that Lorde is really excited about going to a new city to have the chance of leaning about Washington, D.C. Lorde has a happy tone because the graduation was over for both daughters and the parents wanted to have a trip to Washington. At the beginning of the essay, Lorde states, "Preparation were in the air around our house before school was even over. We packed for a week" (567). The writer mentions about how she would eat the food as the family was settled. At that moment, Lorde's tone is happy and still excited because of the mention of the mother packing food as if they were going on a picnic. This acknowledges the point that Lorde is planning on having so much fun on her vacation. The scene where Lorde realizes that the family can not eat in the dining car causes the tone to change from being happy to confusing and curious about having dinner with the whites although she does not actually know the reason. Even though she does not directly know from being on the train why the mother did not want them in the dining car, the father does explain that whites are discriminating against the blacks.

To support this tone or mood, of being curious, Lorde "learned that Phyllis's high school senior class trip had been to Washington, but the nuns had given her back her deposit in private, explaining to her that the class, all of whom was white, except Phyllis, would be staying in a hotel where Phyllis 'would not be happy.' (568). To this end, they were not going to going to allow rooms to be rented by anyone that was black. Lorde tone had calmed down, and it goes to normal in regular voice. Further along in this selection, the tone dramatically rises from happiness to curiosity to anger. The anger happens when the family goes into the ice cream shop. Each family member sits down on the stools and waits for the waitress to serve them. When she spoke to the family the first time, they did not understand what she had said. The second time the waitress state, "I said I kin give you to take out, but you can't eat here" (569). The waitress had built anger in Lorde. Now she really gets made because they were not allowed to eat at the counter. Lorder is angry since everything that has happened during the vacation is not going the way she expected.

To express how she feels, with strong emotion, Lorde clearly exclaims," 'But we hadn't done anything!' This wasn't right or fair! Hadn't I written poems about Bataan and freedom and democracy for all?" (569). She is furious that the parents know what is happening and they are ignoring the discrimination and hatred the whites have against them and other blacks. To vent her feelings, Lorde writes a letter to the United States President. The tone increases from each situation that happens to the family. Using tone helps the reader to understand how the writer felt on this day. The other family members did not really have a change in tone. Everything to them was expressed in a "monotone" sense of style.

This is only the first part of the essay. There's more of the essay to be posted.


  • We read this essay last semester. It is a really great essay, and has so much in it for someone willing to look. I did my analysis paper on a different essay, but I really enjoyed this one as well, and I read it several times. Great work on the analysis.