The Bean Eaters
by Gwendolyn Brooks
OK, you knew it was coming. After all, the title of this poem is "The Bean Eaters." It's like Brooks is pointing a big, symbolic finger at beans. In fact, beans become a stand-in for everything that this couple lacks: a good home, a network of friends, a big juicy steak… Instead, they're making do with the cheapest goods they can find. The point is, though, that this couple makes it work. They're survivors.
- Line 1: Beans. They're not exactly a supper you dream about. In this case, they're a symbol of everything that this couple is lacking financially and even socially.
- Line 11: Yup, you guessed it. The poem begins with a symbolic reference to beans, and it ends on the same note. The couple's meal together becomes a way for them to transcend their circumstances – they look past the beans and into their rich, interesting past.