Analysis of "The Fourth of July" Part 2

This is second half of the essay that was posted on Friday.

Lorde uses the repetition of the word white several times. This allows the reader know that the family was living in a "white society." The first use of the word white is noticed when the father was explaining the situation about Phyllis getting her deposit back from the nuns. Lorde uses the world in describing the pain of "an agonizing corolla of dazzling whiteness" (569). This particular girl did not like the Fourth of July although she knew black people have the right to celebrate this national day. She describes the counter of the ice cream shop to be white marble. Since everyone was white, then all the materials were white. This gives meaning to explain that the family was set apart by the color of their skin. The whites were the only people to eat inside, and blacks had to get a doggy bag and walk right out of the shop.

To conclude this selection, Lorde writes, "The waitress was white, and the counter was white, and the ice cream I never ate in Washington, D.C., that summer I left childhood was white, and the white heat and the white pavement and the white stone monuments of my first Washington summer made me sick to my stomach for the whole rest of that trip and it wasn't much of a graduation present after all" (570). This use of repetition of the white allows Lorde to explain that the people of the city were very racist. She wants reader to know that she is strongly suggesting that the Fourth of July is all about white people. There is nothing black about Washington to Lorde. The purpose of repetition is to express how she feels about the overall experience of the vacation. Although this was supposed to be a fun vacation, it did not turn out as Lorde had expected.

The title of the selection, once read, is completely different from what a reader would expect. It is ironic that Lorde uses the title "The Fourth of July" since this holiday did turn out to be miserable rather than exciting and fun spending time with family. She uses the title to signify a meaningful essay of how her vacation is very different than any other holiday. It is ironic because, one read, Lorde allows readers to get happy and think her essay will be good, but when it is all said and done, they understand that her Fourth of July was not normal. Lorde should have changed her essay to give it a better understanding beforehand to let readers know exactly what the selection would be about. She could have renamed the essay "The Fourth of July in Washington" or "Racism During the Time of a National Holiday." These two titles would give a clear opinion of what the content of the selection is about. Instead, the irony in the title is to give more meaning and significance of how she felt on this day in another city.

This selection by Lorde is a personal experience of how she developed a different meaning for a national holiday. Although she felt happy, angry, and confused, she finally found out why her mother did not want the family to eat in the dining cat, how Phyllis did not get the chance to participate on a school trip, and how the racist people treated them. To get a better view of this memory, Lorde allows the reader to get a full understanding of the emotional trip, choice of words, and how selection may influence the readers to notice the ironic title of this selection.

Lorde, Audre. "The Fourth of July." Language Awareness. 9th ed. Ed. Paul Eschholz, Alfred Rosa, & Virginia Clark. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2005. 567-570