The poem Sympathy

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The poem "Sympathy", by Paul Laurence Dunbar suggests to the reader a comparison between the lifestyle of the caged bird, and the African American in the nineteenth century. Paul Laurence Dunbar's focus of "Sympathy" is how the African American identifies and relates to the frustrations and pain that a caged bird experiences. Dunbar begins the poem by stating, "I know what the caged bird feels, alas!" which illustrates the comparison of a caged bird to …

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…Dunbar's "Sympathy" as his way of expressing the suppressed life of African Americans during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He eloquently compares an innocent creature's lifestyle to the lifestyle of the African Americans. The language chosen for this poem evokes compassion, sympathy, and understanding in the reader. In reality, African Americans were denied the right to life, just like the caged bird. This in turn allows the reader to empathize with the lives of slaves.