The Bean Eaters

Finding Beauty in Beans College

In the poem “The Bean Eaters”, Gwendolyn Brooks illustrates the image of a simple elderly couple, whose lives have become rather mundane and routine. The first two stanzas in the poem serve as the exposition of the story, as Brooks paints a picture of an impoverished, aging couple living an extremely routine life. In the third and final stanza, however, Brooks challenges the connotations that stem from the previous stanzas. With a change in tone, Brooks transforms the entire topic of the poem into a more romantic and sentimental story. Through careful word choice, structure, and a shift in the overall mood of the poem, Gwendolyn Brooks conveys a story about finding happiness through simplicity and timeless love, while challenging the biases society has about poverty and simple living.

The opening stanza of the poem is essentially a description of what dinner is like for the couple. Echoing the title, Brooks describes that the couple “[eats] beans mostly”, on “plain chipware on a plain and creaking wood” table (Brooks 1, 3). With very simple word choice, Brooks is immediately introducing the reader to the type of lifestyle the couple is leading. In choosing beans to be the food the couple eats, Brooks is stressing just how basic...

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