The Inner Part

by Louis Simpson

Summary and Critical Analysis

When Americans won the war for the first time in history, they assumed that they were the most important people. Their behaviors changed. The leaders and the most important persons began to wear formal clothes. They stopped wearing shirts only. Their wives thought that it was a mark of rude behavior to scratch their bodies in public. Similarly, they started using formal language. They supposed that informal language would make them like common people. In order to express their surprise, they stopped saying the informal world “Gosh”. Their daughter seemed as sensitive as the tip of a fly rod. Their sons looked as smooth as a V-8 engine. They had lost their human qualities. They had become like inanimate objects. When the priests examined the inner parts of birds, they found that the heart has been misplaced and the small eggs inside them were as black as death and they were sending out bad smell.

‘The Inner Part’ is a poem in which we can see the superficial change of the Americans and spiritual emptiness in the name of being civilized after winning the battle of the Second World War. They have become so proud that they began to think superior than others. They pretend to be civilized by wearing coat, tie and shirt. Their wives stopped scratching in public and even they stopped saying “Gosh”. It shows that they forgot their god also. They became materialistic that they began to compare their daughter as sensitive as the tip of a fly rod and son as smooth as v-8 engine. They have forgotten the difference between object and human being.

‘The Inner Part’ by Louis Simpson describes a superficially improved condition of American civilization after the Second World War in the first three stanzas, and then goes on to show how the country is spiritually vile and corrupt. Humanity is a mere world in a country that is spiritually dead. People pretend that they are superior and their behavior is affected. They want to show off. People are no longer humane. They are like machines. They misunderstand the language of hove and kindness. Whatever they say is a mere expression of hatred and death. There is no room for sweet things in the world.

In the third stanza sons are compared to V-8 engines because the boys want to roam here and there and they want to show their smoothness like the body of the car. Daughters are compared to the tip of a fly rod, which are sensitive enough when the fish is hooked. The boys and girls do not care for human qualities, because they are spiritually vile and corrupt.

In the last stanza instead of surgeon a priest; a spiritual leader is to examine the body physically because the priest examines the body and finds spiritual absence in the heart of Americans. The heart is misplaced, so there is neither love, nor kindness in it. It is as black as death and it only sends out bad smell of decaying body. The poet here tries to disclose the inner part or the reality of the Americans who are spiritually vile, corrupt and without any sense of humanity.

The poem is trying to show the superficial changes in the behavior of Americans in the second half of the twentieth century. Though they had tried to show themselves very decent outwardly, there is a very different story inside. They have turned into hypocrites, and their children also have become devoid of humanity. They have turned into objects. The lack of humanitarian feelings in Americans is made clear through the description of birds whose heart have been replaced by reeking (smelling bad) black seeds. This bird devoid of heart stands for Americans who have forgotten the meaning of being a human. The black seeds stand for the negativities like, selfishness, great snobbery, and hypocrisy. Outwardly they are well mannered but the inner reality is really miserable. The country had become spiritually vile and corrupt. Humanity is dead and spirituality is merely a word for them. The heart from where positive feelings like love, compassion, sincerity and spirituality flow is shown to be missing. That is why the poet appears pessimistic to the fact that the American way of life and thinking might change for better. Such a possibility is shown to be almost impossible as the place of heart is taken by the black seeds emitting unpleasant smell.

As Louis Simpson believes, this poem rises from the inner life of the poet and is expressed in original images and rhythms. Also, the language of this poem is closely related to the language in which men actually think and speak. He has written this poem in irregular, unrhymed lines. There is a dramatic and narrative element in the poem. The action, feeling and idea have come through with no interference in this poem.

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