In the American Grain Essay

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Barnhisel directs the Writing Center at the University of Southern California. In this essay, Barnhisel discusses Williams's attacks on the Puritans as they relate to the modernist movement in general.

Williams has become known as a poet of the particular, overwhelmingly concerned with the specifics of place and of the objects to be found in any particular place. The three poems that are probably Williams's most famous all express this concern with the particularity of things. In "The Red Wheelbarrow," the speaker focuses on a specific image of a wet, red wheelbarrow next to white chickens, saying that "so much depends/upon" this wheelbarrow. The question, of course, is what? What depends upon this wet wheelbarrow? Perhaps the answer can be found in Williams's most genial poem, "This Is Just to Say," in which the speaker goes into sensual detail about plums he has taken from the ice...

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This section contains 1,882 words
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In the American Grain from Nonfiction Classics for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.