Essay: The Incident by Countee Cullen

Sample Essay

The poem is a Quatrain since it has a syllable structure that is quite similar throughout. There are four lines in each stanza of the poem. This is also supplemented by the fact that the second and fourth line of every stanza rhymes. The poet has chosen to narrate the incident from the eyes of the main character. The poet has adopted a tone which shows that pain has been inflicted and that unexpected outcomes were yielded that shocked the main character.

The boy was riding along the road when he saw another boy standing at a distance not too far. As the child approached this young stranger, he offered the stranger a smile in an attempt to make friends and to be polite out of natural impulse. However, the natural impulse that the boy standing on the road was feeling was quite different from that which the boy on his way across Baltimore was going through. The boy standing on the road called out to our story telling lad in a highly impolite and racial remark when he simply yelled nigger in response to the young fellow’s friendly smile. At this point Countee Cullen shows how it is in the tenderness of youth when social discrimination based on race and society can cause the most damage. The poet shows how one incident of racial discrimination broke the young lad’s heart very badly. And that the entire time that the young lad spent in Baltimore, this one moment was the one that remained riveted in his memory for the longest period.

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