Study Guide

We Real Cool Identity

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The pool players are presented like dramatic characters in a one-act play set in "The Golden Shovel." Why doesn't Brooks call them "Seven Pool Players"? We learn something about the way the boys talk from these lines.

We real cool. We (line 1)

Are they? Brooks said she wanted to get inside the boys' heads, so maybe these thoughts aren't meant to be public ones. It's like when you see some well-dressed person sashaying down the street and you know they're thinking "Man, I look good today." The words "real cool" are surrounded by "We" like bookends. The speaker has got "coolness" cornered – literally, on the page. If "real cool" were a car, it would be trapped in its parking spot.

Lurk late. We
Strike straight. (lines 3-4)

In this line, the boys start to sound rebellious and maybe even dangerous. We don't know a lot of friendly things that "lurk." These lines remind us of our cat going after its toy mouse: first it "lurks" behind the couch, then it "strikes" with amazing speed. Brooks repeats the harsh "k" sound twice, which suggests coldness and hard edges.


Sing sin (lines 4-5)

Here they put on their Walt Whitman masks, but instead of singing a "Song of Myself," or a song about "the body electric," they sing about "sin." Are these young men also poets, like Whitman? To "sing" is another way of saying "to recite poetry." Finally, "to sing" also means "to celebrate." Both meanings could serve as interpretations here.

Thin gin. (lines 5-6)

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