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In his poem “Market,” Robert Hayden portrays a world in which the disparities between the rich
and poor are immense and the desire of the poor for charity and mercy goes unmet. Rich and poor mix in this diverse market, but the rich do not help those in need. Hayden juxtaposes a poor, starving, “barefoot cripple,” who represents poor people in third-world nations, with the healthy and powerful tourists, who represent people in prosperous imperialistic nations, who have “walked on seas of money.”
Despite a market scene full of life, waste abounds. Hayden papayas too ripe” , “ rooting oranges” and, fragrant lilies and rooting flesh. Hayden demonstrates how, though there is much food available for purchase, it grows “too ripe”. Likewise, the turkeys on display are still alive because the natives cannot afford to buy them.
This is analogous to many underdeveloped nations, who, despite having a wealth of resources, are unable to utilize them to their fullest potential due to a multitude of causes ranging from corrupt governments to foreign economic imperialism and capitalism. These poor countries, much as the beggars in the market, lack the economic autonomy to change their fate.
The hungry and the beggar scrounge on the dirty ground searching for scraps. He asks for money from tourists. He is so desperate that his hunger is“suppliant before the altars of mamey, pineapple, and mango”.
He is crippled and he is jealous of tourists who have walked “on seas of money” their whole lives. It seems that he is comparing the tourists to God just as Christians think of Jesus as their savior, so do the beggar thinks that these rich tourists have the ability to save him from his poverty and suffering.
The beautiful scent of carnations and lilies thinly veil the stench of a “dripping flyblown carcass” beneath them. The beggar is left to starve and compete with the “starveling...
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