Citizen: An American Lyric

Chapter 5

Chapter 5 reads as a satirical parody of invisibility and the constant Up and Down notion of self-doubt and identity. Rankine commands in a stand-alone "stanza". "Stand where you are." However, the more that is read ascribes to a concise form of uncertainty. Again, another command but just the opposite Rankine states, "Anyway, sit down. Sit here alongside." Metaphorically, Rankine forms a transparent platform in which the reader knows is present however Rankine places you in a thick cloud of mistrust. Disguising, life as a personal roller-coaster of self-doubt. "You begin to move around in search of the steps it will take before you are thrown back into your own body, back into your own need to be found. The destination is illusory. You raise your lids, No one else is seeking. You exhaust yourself looking into the blue light. All day blue burrows the atmosphere. What doesn’t belong with you won’t be seen (Citizen, Ch. 5). The accumulative stresses come to bear on a person's ability to speak, perform and stay alive. Our addressability is tied to the state of our belonging, Rankine argues, as are our assumptions and expectations of citizenship. "Exactly why we survive and can look back with furrowed brow is beyond me." It is not often within the text that Rankine subjects and/or projects herself and the narrator. The reader than can interpret this subjectively or objectively depending how it is read. In an effort to gather the overall theme of chapter 5, Rankine employs these first person perspective notions to drive forward a character, any character in a means of strife. The subtle connotations barb the fragile reality of indifference. That blacks, are different than whites and society makes it apparently so that renders them invisible and likewise, without an identity. Rankine asks, "Why are you standing"? "Yes, and you do go to the gym and run in place, an entire hour running, just you and your body running off each undesired desired encounter." (Rankine, Citizen Ch.5)


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