Study Guide

The Whipping Stanza 2

By Robert Hayden

Stanza 2

Lines 5-8

Wildly he crashes through elephant ears,
pleads in dusty zinnias,
while she in spite of crippling fat
pursues and corners him.

  • The violent scene continues to unfold as the second stanza begins.
  • The boy crashes through some plants (elephant ears and zinnias). All the while, the woman, who apparently is seriously overweight, continues to chase him all over the place.
  • Okay, so let's put all this botanical stuff together. The woman, who is so fat it is "crippling," is chasing this boy all around. While he's trying to get away, he crashes into some elephant ear plants and then probably hides behind some dusty zinnias.
  • While hiding behind those flowers, he pleads with the woman—presumably to stop beating him. While the metaphor isn't made explicit, the woman is clearly a hunter here, the boy her prey. The woman is out for vengeance.
  • As with the first stanza, there's still no fixed meter, or rhyme scheme here. In fact, it might be safe to just assume that this is how it's gonna be for the duration of the flight… err poem.
  • Keep in mind that we still have no clue why this woman is chasing this kid around and beating him. At this point, we're starting to wonder if maybe this boy didn't really do anything at all. Maybe this woman just has a mean streak. 
  • It's sad to say, but stranger things have happened.

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