Angel Cuadra, a Cuban poet and an active participant in the contemporary movements against Socialist regime in the country, used his poetic skills to describe the social realities in Cuba. The poem “The New Man” written in the years in prison perfectly reflects the mood of the author and apparently explains his social position. The following close reading indicates the writer’s experience and concludes the relevance of his work in the context of events.
From the first lines, the reader becomes a spectator of the interaction between the two forces – the nation and its leaders. Cuadra does not introduce himself as a character, but masterly describes the opposing images in work. The leaders who are impersonally called ‘they’ in the poem establish the governance for the population to follow and obey, while the cumulative image of the population is represented by ‘a man.’ Introducing the idea of conflict between the two confronting sides, the writer points out the relationship between them saying that the leader’s issue orders and people just blindly carry them out. It is obvious that the government is a machine that pursues its own goals neglecting people’s interests and social values. The similarities to a Marxist-Leninist political system and the communist views borrowed from the partner relations with the Soviet Union have identified the direction of country’s development then. According to the author, murder, violence, and blasphemy are typical for this period. However, as Cuadra states, the executors are never really fairly treated – they never get adequate praise for their deeds but are blamed by the author for submission and humility.
In the poem, the author indirectly addresses to the audience by describing the events in a repulsive manner. In “The New Man,” the audience is most probably the nation, which has to reveal own consciousness and fight against the regime. The voice of Cuadra is excited, and the mood is disturbed when he demonstrates the cruelty of the system that just takes advantage of the controllable crowd. He supposes that ‘they’ can make ‘a man’ do everything, which is said to him – the author finds no autonomy for the nation but only the dependence on the country leaders. The leaders dictate their will to the people instead of helping them establish their system of beliefs and opinions. According to the writer, the nation is blindly guided and not provided with choice and opportunities. Cuadra criticizes the governing force for tyranny and blames the population for inactivity and obedience. His motivation is an aspiration to obtain social freedoms for himself and the nation. He finds himself obliged to address to the nation and encourage the people to stop oppression. By the end of the poem, some contempt replaces the feeling of anger and indignation, which assist the author in disclosing the political regime in the country and the consequences brought with its introduction. No conflict is resolved in the poem for that its structure rather resembles an appeal to the audience. Similar appeals previously were recognized as working against the security of the country, that’s why the writer was arrested and had to compose the poem already imprisoned. He dramatizes the whole idea of submissiveness and uses various rhetoric methods and comparisons to reinforce his opinion and allot meaningfulness to it.
The literary form of the given work is referred to poetry, namely a free verse poem. The author uses the type of verse, which does not have a rhyme. The lines chosen for the close reading give a hint how such poetry looks like and provide a complete analysis of rhetoric, syntax and vocabulary in the selected fragment of the poem:
Then he runs off, smiling,
Enjoying his portion of blood.
After the horse is broken,
they reward it with pats on the shoulders…
In his third-person narration of the abstract character, Cuadra skillfully applies a variety of tropes in each sentence. The whole poem is written in dramatic irony. Another central rhetoric figure used is the metaphor. Violence does not astonish and glare anymore; the author says introducing the phrase ‘Enjoying his portion of blood.’ ‘Enjoying’ is a verbal irony used to reveal the author’s judging attitude towards such kind of behavior. ‘Portion of blood’ is a metaphor because the phrase is not applicable, to suggest a resemblance. This first sentence of the abstract reflects the efforts that a human needs to put in to satisfy the requirements of society that is cruel in its demands.
A horse is a symbol of man’s power, property, and freedom. By saying ‘the horse is broken,’ the author applies the meaning of sacrificing that a man makes to comply with what he is required. The will of the person is undermined, and this most probably witnesses about the control from above. Therefore, this phrase can also be treated as a symbolic one.
The last line (‘they reward it with pats on the shoulders…’) is full of irony that is used to show how little a person gets for all the hard work and efforts he does to please the others.
‘Smiling’ is a detachment used by the author in the first line that singles out a member of the sentence with the help of punctuation. It is used in the text to show that a man has an inappropriate attitude towards the situation and his choices. The irony is used to indicate that a man accepts the position rather than fighting and not taking it as joy and happiness. An ellipsis at the last line witnesses about the incompleteness of the sentence.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford Dictionaries), ‘run-off’ refers to the continuation of a challenge or a competition meaning the permanency of actions performed by a man in the society. Over and over, the regime makes people follow its standards and requirements.
To conclude the central subject matter of the poem, I would say that the author reflects the complexity for a person to correspond to the requirements of the society, which exhausts and abases. The community makes slaves out of people and requires them to contribute to the so-called society needs with no reward. The needs of the person at that moment are rather compared to trifling and insignificant. The symbolic title reveals the author’s attitude towards the contemporary culture and tendencies in the Cuban society of those years. It’s also ironical because it shows that the New Man is a kind of degradation of human spirit instead of progress and evolution.
“Run-off.” . Ofxord Dictionaries, n.d. Web. 2 Jun. 2011
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