Compare and Contrast ‘Crow Lake’ and ‘Warren Pryor’

Category: Poetry, Poverty
Last Updated: 27 Jul 2020
Pages: 3 Views: 566

In the modern day, millions of students of all ages from around the globe attend schools and universities solely for the purpose of receiving an education. The reason as to why education is one of the most important elements in life is because it helps individuals gain wisdom and awareness, and essentially achieve more success in their lives. The importance of education also happens to be one of the central elements in Mary Lawson’s ‘Crow Lake’, as well as in ‘Warren Pryor’, a poem written by Alden Nowlan. To begin with, one most first realize the true value of education.

We are introduced to this concept when we see the extents to which Warren’s parents go in order for their son to be able to receive an education, rather than to labour on a farm. In the first stanza of the poem, Alden describes: “His parents boarded him at school in town, slaving to free him from the stony fields” (Nowlan 2-3). Alden is able to achieve imagery in his reader’s mind by his use of diction. The selection of words such as ‘slaving’ creates a powerful evocative effect, as it highlights how much an education is truly worth. On the other hand, Kate is also making similar conclusions.

While reflecting on her university education, she explains: “I had discovered by then that Great-Grandmother Morrison was more right than she knew about the power of education […] she’d had no idea of the other doors it could open” (Lawson 187). This passage reveals Kate’s experiences with success and her realizations about the true potential of formal education. Another common element between the protagonists of the novel and the poem, is the financial struggles they have to face and the sacrifices they have to make. Alden Nowlan describes Warren’s situation with: “When every pencil meant a sacrifice” (Nowlan 1).

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This line introduces the reader to a taste of poverty, where something as uncostly as a pencil can mean a sacrifice. Similarly, Kate retells: “Money was too tight for me to go home for short breaks” (Lawson 188). This shortage of money in the Morrison family translates into separation of the members from each other. Therefore although the two characters are faced with different situations, the lack of money becomes an issue for both the protagonists, as well as their families. However, Kate and Warren begin to contrast each other in their attitude towards receiving an education.

While Kate sees her university as the ultimate path to a brighter future, she explains: “The World was spreading itself out before me; I felt that I could go anywhere, do anything. Be anyone. ” It is clear that she realizes her opportunity to change her life for the better, and she is prepared to take advantage of it. While on the other hand, Warren Pryor does not seem to be a man of books and learning. Although he was able to finish university and successfully get a job, the last stanza explains: “And he said nothing. Hard and serious like a young bear inside his teller’s cage” (Nowlan 13).

While ironically this life of hard work and success means little to Warren, in order to avoid disappointment from his parents, he chooses to remain silently inside his teller’s cage. Although these two pieces of literature have a few differences and points of contrast, for most of the parts they’re significantly relevant. Mary Lawson and Alden Nowlan both use unique methods of bringing a subject to life, whether by in depth development of a character, or through biblical and religious references. Overall, both pieces deal with the central concept of the importance of education in today’s world, for both the individual and the society.

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Compare and Contrast ‘Crow Lake’ and ‘Warren Pryor’. (2017, Mar 19). Retrieved from

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