"Society"s Mindless Assumptions in "Nikk

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Arthur Brouthers English 102-018 Instructor: S. J. Glassberg 6/17/97 "Society's Mindless Assumptions in "Nikki Rosa" and "Richard Cory" Nikki Giovanni's " Nikki Rosa " and Edwin Arlington Robinson's " Richard Cory " both reveal that monetary wealth does not bring forth happiness . Each poem embodies unexpected conclusions which lead the reader to realize that the true lives of the speaker are misconceived by society's narrow minded use of assumption and face values . Richard Cory, a wealthy and unhappy man, and Nikki Rosa, a poor yet happy child, are both judged by their wealth or lack of wealth, proving that one can not simply judge a person by appearances . Nikki Rosa is a poem about a black woman reminiscing her poor, childhood upbringings and expressing how a white person can not understand her true happiness.In the poem " Nikki Rosa," the opening statement, " childhood remembrances are always a drag / if you're Black, " immediately display's the writers attitude on society's negative view of growing up as a poor black child . ( Lines 1 and 2 ) The speaker feels white biographers see black children as unhappy, uneducated, and deprived of chances in life due to a lack of money and material possessions . The speaker emphasizes being " Black ''(1), " living in Woodlawn ''(3), and " as the whole family attended meetings in Hollydale "(13), thus showing the importance of the family as opposed to money . The capitalization of Black ,Woodlawn, and Hollydale show the importance to the speaker while Chicago is left uncapitalized showing the speaker does not care about taking baths in the " big tubs that folk in chicago barbeque in " ( 9 ). Line nine portrays the speaker's poverty with Nikki Rosa remembering bathing in what wealthy people prepare food in . " and though you're poor it isn't poverty that / concerns you " lets the reader know that money is not a main concern . The poem goes further to state " Black love is Black wealth …", meaning when one is poor, money is not the main concern but more focus is placed on family love and memories shared ( 25 ). The quick assumptions that Nikki Rosa grew up unhappy due to poverty is proved incorrect with the least expected last line, " all the while I was quite happy, " ( 27 ) .The speaker disproves society's assumptions that poverty equals unhappiness when she states her life to be rich with memories and love, neither which can be purchased with money . In contrast to Nikki Giovanni's "Nikki Rosa", describing a poor child who seems unhappy, " Richard Cory, " a poem by Edwin Arlington Robinson describes a man who seems to have it all . The reader and less fortunate " people on the pavement … " assume Richard Cory is " a gentleman from sole to crown , " due to monetary wealth . ( 2 ,3 ) Richard Cory's wealth makes others regard him as well bred , attractive , tasteful , educated , graceful and most of all , happy . A man who is always " Clean favored , and imperially slim . " ," quietly arrayed " and " rich - yes richer than a king - " , could be nothing but happy in society's eyes . ( 4 , 5 , 9 ) People in the community assume Richard Cory is and has " everything "(11) and " wish that we were in his place "(12). While striving to be like him, the people work hard, making sacrifices in hopes to eventually gain the " happiness " Cory appears to have . No one ever suspects Richard Cory's grim reality . The sing - song ABAB rhyme scheme eases the reader with a smooth rhythm that flows to an abrupt and least expected ending , just like Richard's life, " one calm summer night, / went home and put a bullet through his head . " ( 15 , 16 ) A wealthy and prestigious man is seen as a happy man due to society's attitudes and assumptions towards money . Society never suspects Richard Cory's true state of being because he is rich . The last two lines shock the reader and prove society wrong in their assumptions that money brings happiness . The poems " Nikki Rosa " and " Richard Cory " both use money or the lack of money to show that appearances do not always reflect reality .

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