Dr. Kristina Gutierrez
7 March 2013
A Crossroads of Connection
A hug: is it an everyday occurrence or a beacon of what it means to be human? Tess Gallagher’s poem “The Hug” transforms what some may see as an insignificant act into an icon of the human connection and the potential all people have to commune with one another; hugs are a chance to love lonely strangers and already-loved ones alike. Gallagher’s message that love is meant to be shared through the art of hug giving is enhanced by her use of tone, diction, and symbolism. Gallagher establishes a conversational tone throughout the poem by using short lines, straightforward language, and frequent punctuation. In the third stanza the narrator nonchalantly describes initial contact with the homeless man, stating “So I walk over to him and put my / arms around him and try to / hug him like I mean it” (Gallagher lines 22-24). By using short, enjambed lines, the poem’s rhythm flows similar to everyday conversation. Gallagher’s use of straightforward language and punctuation to establish tone are seen at the beginning of the hug between the narrator and the homeless man. The narrator feels self-conscious, rhetorically asking, “How big a hug is this supposed to be? / How long should I hold this hug?” and goes on to say “my hands not / meeting behind his back, he is so big!” (27-28). Through the use of interior monologue, question marks and exclamation points, the author employs language that all people can understand, which reflects the idea that hugs are inclusive events accessible to all walks of people. While a casual tone represents the idea that hugs are an inclusive event, the poem’s diction hints at underlying complexity; verb tense and word choice establish emotional imagery that contributes to the impact of the events that take place in the poem. For example, in the initial exchange between the couple and the homeless man, “He looks homeless because of how / he needs....
Cited: Gallagher, Tess. "The Hug." Approaching Literature: Writing + Reading + Thinking. Ed.
Peter J. Schakel and Jack Ridl. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin 's, 2008. 807-08. Print.
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