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The Bean Eaters

The Bean Eaters


by Gwendolyn Brooks

Analysis: What's Up With the Title?

Calling this poem "The Bean Eaters" allows it to work in two interesting (and very different) ways at the same time. Here's what we mean:

  1. We instantly know how to characterize the people that Brooks describes. They eat beans every day. That's pretty much the regular routine that describes their lives. Come to think of it, that's almost all we know about the specifics about their daily habits. They're not "the adventurers" or even "the lovers." Nope. They're "the bean eaters." Case closed.

  2. Then again, not offering too many specifics about the characteristics of the people allows us to imagine them as just about any elderly folks that we know. We're allowed to use our imaginations, filling in what we don't know about them with the bits and pieces we've gathered from people we do know. In other words, they're closer to our imagination precisely because they're so vague. Cool, huh?

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