Study Guide

The Whipping Loud Noise

By Robert Hayden

Loud Noise

This is a very noisy poem, from the woman shouting in the first stanza so loud that the entire neighborhood can hear, to the boy crashing through bushes and plants as he tries to escape the woman's wrath. The noise in this poem works to make the violent scene described seem more chaotic, crazy, and scary. In some ways, the woman is like an angry, frothing predator chasing a boy who is her whimpering, screaming prey. "The Whipping" isn't just some depiction of a mother or baby sitter disciplining a child, but rather a depiction of domestic warfare.

  • Lines 3-4: The woman screams at the boy as she whips him. She probably needs to shout about his "wrongs" so that she can convince herself that he deserves to be whipped.Ā 
  • Line 5: The boy crashes through elephant ears. The crashing here makes the scene chaotic, while the huge leaves symbolize the fact that the whipping is a wild, primitive, chaotic event.
  • Line 9: The boy is circling the woman "shrilly," which means he is shrieking in a high-pitched voice. This little detail makes us pity the boy and makes him seem like some whimpering, screeching animal being pursued by a violent, angry predator.
  • Line 20: Sobbing is a form of loud crying. This line recalls the shouting of the first stanza and also highlights the boy's pain, frustration, and fear.

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