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The Bean Eaters

The Bean Eaters

by Gwendolyn Brooks

Beans

Symbol Analysis

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.

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