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Casual Wear

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Casual Wear
Michelle Lyda Jessica Hutchman English 113 9 November 2011 Casual Wear In the fast-paced world of today’s news and media, the true meaning and emotion of many leading stories is lost in the endless reel of current events. James Merrill constructs his poem, “Casual Wear,” in a similar fashion; the first eight lines of the poem distantly describe a female tourist and a male terrorist, not as people, but as statistics. It is only in the final two lines of the poem that Merrill injects any emotion into the work and connects the two seemingly unrelated individuals. In “Casual Wear,” Merrill uses contrasting viewpoints to convey both the resolution of the terrorist and the direness of the death of the tourist. Most of “Casual Wear” focuses on “your average tourist” and “your average terrorist;" it is not until the last two lines that the poem reveals, indirectly, that the terrorist is responsible for killing the woman, who is given the title, in the last two words of the poem, “wife” (Merrill 907). The unexpected outcome provides the reader with the fierce shock of reality on a personal level. Since the only name given to the woman is “wife” and the odds were “1 to 910 against her strolling past the Embassy,” the reader is given the impression that this is something that could happen to anyone, anywhere (Merrill 907). The shift in tone from detached to very personal provides the reader with the stark contrast between a generalized newscast and the very personal level on which people are affected by the events being covered. The events that make the news, however, have a different effect on different individuals, which Merrill suggests in the last two lines of “Casual Wear.” In line eleven, Merrill provides the outcome of the attack for both the terrorist and the tourist; the terrorist is left with the satisfaction of “claiming responsibility,” while everyone else suffers “devastation” (Merrill 907). This statement is ironic in that one person is able...

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