Study Guide

Famous Society and Class

By Naomi Shihab Nye

Society and Class

The boot is famous to the earth,
more famous than the dress shoe,
which is famous only to floors. (10-12)

This line could certainly be simply making reference to the different footwear in your closet. On the other hand, we can read this as a social commentary with words like "more" and "only" implying economic inequality and social divisions. Could the dude wearing the boots be the same gentleman wearing wingtips?

I want to be famous to shuffling men
who smile while crossing streets,
sticky children in grocery lines,
famous as the one who smiled back. (15-18)

Does society push the elderly and children into the same class? After all, they're often overlooked. Nye chooses these two groups specifically to smile to. Is she trying to encourage us to do what we can do by seeking out the "forgotten" classes first?

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