Formalist Criticism on Waiting on the Curb: Lynwood California, 1967

Category: Poetry
Last Updated: 13 Jul 2020
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Marquetta Brown Eng 241 J. Zeff Formalist Criticism The poem ‘Waiting oat the curb: Lynwood California, 1967 written by Deborah Escobedo is about a young girl named Debbie in Lynwood, California who is waiting on a friend at the curb. When first examining the title of the poem, I think of waiting on the curb as a sign of prostitution or hitchhiking. They way I imagine the scene of the poem is; a hot summer day in an urban area in Lynwood, California. I imagine Debbie’s father outside a small white house watering the lawn. In the poem the characters were Debbie, mother, father, neighbor, a friend, and America.

Even though the friend and America didn’t have lines in the poem the still had an effect on how the poem was interpreted. When I analyze and picture Debbie’s father, I see an older, overweight, lower middle class gentleman. I see him standing on the front lawn watering the grass with a white T-shirt on and denim shorts on. The father seems to be a very relaxed individual. “His law, the one green he can count on. He can’t count /On his money, or his Dodgers slipping on the green/. By the author saying that he can’t count on his money shows that he may have some financial troubles.

Also in examining those two lines of the poem about the father, they give more insight about the father’s possessions. The word his is capitalized when it refers to “His lawn”, but not when is refers to “his Dodgers”. While reviewing the personality of the father and his relationship with his daughter, “Maybe he could speak his mind about decency”. Ordinarily id a father had to question what his daughter was wearing he would have stopped her immediately. Instead of him stopping her and telling her to go change her clothes, he “…rolls the garden hose/Onto the sling of his arm.

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Debbie, where are you going/With no clothes on? ” Debbie says, “Dad, this is how it is”. The dad doesn’t say or do anything. In conducting a character analysis of Debbie, she seems to be an older teenage. Debbie also appears to be a little bit rebellious. With no regard or respect for her father she dresses inappropriately and waits on the curb. “She thinks and spins the music of her time”. She is dressed in cut offs, “Cut too short”, and a gypsy blouse. It appears that she could be possibly day dreaming this event while she is waiting on the curb. The poet made the reader pay attention to the details of Debbie’s attire.

By saying a gypsy blouse it makes the reader picture something seductive and showing skin and cleavage. The tone of the poem changes when “America is getting ready. ” The author is taking about the people and the world around the characters in the poem, referring to the people as “America”. She then describes what America is doing around her. “America is shoveling ice cream into Tupperware bowls,/America is setting up trays in front of snowy TVs. ” At this point in the poem she brings forth a reality. Debbie comes to a realization at this point as well.

She begins to pull at her shorts that have risen up form being cut to short. I can picture Debbie looking at everything around her with the woman in curls yelling at her own old man then Debbie saying, “I gotta get outta here,/ It seems as if at this point she is unsatisfied with where she is at and the culminating events made her realize that this is not the life she wants. Overall the poem told a story. The author’s diction made the reader key into certain areas of the poem. The way the poem was presented on the page also had an effect on the way the poem was interpreted.

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Formalist Criticism on Waiting on the Curb: Lynwood California, 1967. (2018, Feb 10). Retrieved from

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