Monday, April 09, 2012

Out of the Dust

Excellent Student Post.
Hesse, K. (1997). Out of the dust. New York: Scholastic.

I chose this collection of poetry because I always loved hearing my grandfather's stories about growing up during this time. Even though he didn't leave in Oklahoma, areas across the US were affected by the Dust Bowl. Hesse's collection of poetry combines to create a novel about the Dust Bowl and the way of life from that time period. Told from the first person account of Billie Jo, the reader follows Billie Jo and her difficult life through blank verse poetry. Billie Jo has written the poetry herself as a way to let her emotions out. The poems read like a journal. Each poem is dated with the month and year, giving the reader a better understanding of the length of the Dust Bowl.

Hesse uses the poems to aid the reader in understanding the difficulties the people face. For example, in the poem titled "Breaking Drought", Hesse begins the poem with longer lines and ends with a one-word line. The subject is the rain. The longer lines give the poem a sense of monotony. It was the same conditions over and over again. "After seventy days / of wind and sun, / of wind and clouds, / of wind and sand, / after seventy days, / of wind and dust, / a little / rain / came." The repetition of "wind" shows the reader that wind was present nearly every day. Because "rain" is on one line by itself, Hesse emphasizes that small amount of rain they received.

Hesse uses elements such as onomatopoeia to enhance descriptions of the dust. An example is "the dust hissed against the windows". Dust was also described with a simile, "...the dust turned toward the house, / like a fired locomotive". With this use of onomatopoeia and simile, Hesse was also using sense imagery to appeal to the reader's sense of hearing.

Big Question: How would you feel if you were no longer able to to do something you loved, like Billie Jo and playing the piano?

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