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The Life of its Parts

Technology is only as good as the unison of all it’s parts, as seen in Sharon Olds’ Summer Solstice, New York City. The fighting effort of the “huge machinery of the earth,” from the relentless cops to the crowd gathered in the street to save one strayed part- the man who plans to end his life, illustrates the vitality of a machine’s every part in order to function. The world works as the most complex machinery, using the sun as it’s source to feed the flame that sparks the cop to spark the man, which in turn meets a common goal for all parts of the machinery of life- to reboot it‘s weakened part, the man.

A mechanical world is developed in Summer Solstice, New York City, in which characterization is used to represent parts of a greater being- the ultimate machinery. As the sun reaches it’s northernmost point towards the world, it becomes the source of function for all its parts. The poem starts off describing a man who is at the verge of letting go of all that he is, as he plans to take his life at the edge of a cornice. This man is portrayed as the weakened part of the machinery of the world. As he plans to rid himself, the rest of his co-parts are presented to save him. The cops approach him, the crowd prepares a net to save him in his landing, and the sun remaining as the source of all parts, reveals its rays on his shirt, “glowing its milky glow.”

The scene suddenly takes action like parts of a machine working together in unison. The tall cop takes the man and puts him against the wall of a chimney, and as he lights up a cigarette from his mouth to mouth of the man, all the parts are at ease again. The sun’s light is seen in the light of the cigarette from the cop, which is the method used to help reboot the man who was on the verge of death, and what would have been the death of all its parts.


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