Carolyn Forche: Poems

Symbolism in the "Ordinary"

Carolyn Forché frequently uses images of everyday life to draw the reader into her poetry. After establishing a connection with the familiar, she often reveals a darker side of humanity, integrating the two seamlessly. The transition between the two mirrors real life, where horrors coincide with the peaceful reality many are able to enjoy. Forché uses this method to compare the lives of the rich and poor as well as the powerful and the weak. In her poem, “Return,” published in The Country Between Us (1981), Forché discusses the surreal feeling of returning to America after spending several years in El Salvador. Forché sets a similar tone in “The Colonel” as she recalls spending time with the upper class in El Salvador. Through the comparison of the working class El Salvadorians, whose reality is constant strife and unceasing violence, and those who control the country, Forché is challenging the reader to consider what is ordinary.

The years Carolyn Forché spent in El Salvador was during a turbulent time for the nation. Many of the El Salvadorian working class, which was the greater percentage of the population, were tired of the poverty that was their reality. When El Salvador was colonized the indigenous people were suppressed...

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