Stephen Spender Writing Styles in An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum

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Allegory

Allegory is a literary technique that employs characters as representations of ideas that are used to convey a message or to teach a lesson. Spender uses the classroom and the children in his poem as an allegory about the struggle between proletarians and bourgeoisie. The children in “An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum” are clearly underprivileged, lower-class proletarians. The classroom donors are wealthy, upper-class bourgeoisie. Without directly using either term—proletarian or bourgeoisie—Spender weaves a descriptive, allegoric vignette about capitalism and its dependence on an oppressed working class. He vividly depicts the hardships and struggles of proletarians through his descriptions of the tired girl with her “weighed-down” head, the paper-thin boy, and the “unlucky heir” of “gnarled disease.” The exhausted students are equivalent to the oppressed working class. The children of this class are doomed to inherit their parents' diseased position in society.

Although the future...

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This section contains 394 words
(approx. 1 page at 400 words per page)
Buy the An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum Study Guide
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