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The Colonel
The Colonel
by Carolyn Forché

The Colonel Analysis

Symbols, Imagery, Wordplay

Form and Meter

Free Verse Prose Poem It's poetry. It's prose. It's two great tastes in one. This is a poem, but it's written in a block, without the broken lines or stanza breaks present in most poems. For that r...

Speaker

From the first line, we get that the speaker is going to give a kind of testimonial. She's a guest in the house of this big-wig colonel. She's there to see and hear and tell it all. You get the sen...

Setting

We've entered the home of a high ranking military man in El Salvador during the late 1970s. The house is fortress during a state of siege. Outside those walls, El Salvador is being torn to shreds b...

Sound Check

They say you can get more attention if you whisper rather than scream. That is proven by this poem. In a poem about speaking and hearing, the speaker uses such plain language in such unadorned synt...

What's Up With the Title?

From the get-go, you know this poem is going to be about a man of high position, somebody who is not going to let you forget that he's above almost everyone. It's interesting that he doesn't get a...

Calling Card

Poetry of WitnessAt the time it was written, this poem likely felt more like a snapshot of a time and place, rather than Forché's calling card. Her first book, Gathering the Tribes (1975) was abou...

Tough-o-Meter

(4) Base CampIt's not at all hard to understand the plot of this poem or the language, though it's really hard to stomach the truths it waves in your face. The image of the ears gets a little surre...

Trivia

Who was "The Colonel"? Some think he was Roberto D'Aubisson, head of Salvadoran Death Squads, responsible for ordering the assassination of Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero, human rights advocate...

Steaminess Rating

GThere's a human-trophy collecting monster, but no sex to speak of here.

Allusions

Historical ReferencesThe "rights of anyone" references the state-sponsored mass executions and repression that occurred in El Salvador, from 1978 to 1985. (28)

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