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The Bean Eaters

The Bean Eaters

by Gwendolyn Brooks

The Home Quotes Page 1

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

As they lean over the beans in their rented back room that is full of beads and receipts and dolls and cloths, tobacco crumbs, vases and fringes. (line 11)

Imagine how this line would look if it spread out to its full length: it would dominate the page, grabbing attention away from all of the rest of the poem. It's almost as if the things that crowd into the small rented room have become this couple's entire world – and the poem works to make sure we notice that first.

Quote #2

[…] their rented back room that is full of beads and receipts and dolls and cloths, tobacco crumbs, vases and fringes. (line 11)

Yes, we do realize we're double dipping here. But we just wanted to point out that there's actually something pretty interesting going on in the last line of this poem: notice the last word? It functions as part of the list of stuff that clutters up this couple's room – but it also does a nifty job of summing up their life in general. See, they're pretty much on the fringes of society, part of a group that no one usually pays any attention to.

Quote #3

Dinner is a casual affair. (line 2)

When we first read this line, it seems like this couple has created a set of customs that structure their lives. It's only later that we realize dinner is casual because they can't afford it to be otherwise.

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