In his poem “Strange Fruit,” Abel Meeropol uses numerous examples of imagery, juxtapositions, satire, and symbolism to expose the controversial truth of the thousands of lynchings in the South during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The first example of juxtaposition and symbolism can be found in the first line of the poem, “Southern trees bear a strange fruit,” after reading the poem, it is understood that the “strange fruit” the author is referring to are the victims of lynchings hanging in the trees. In this case, the tree that symbolizes life is juxtaposed with the death of the lynching victim hanging in the tree that the author refers to as “strange fruit.” A second example of the author using juxtaposition is in the line “Black body swinging in the Southern breeze.
” The use of “Southern breeze” next to the metaphor comparing a body hanging from a tree to fruit allows for a juxtaposition comparing something fairly delightful to something so gruesome and grim. The picture painted for the reader is that of a Southern tree blowing in the breeze, an otherwise beautiful image, but the reality of the event that was being described is nauseating.Yet another example of juxtaposition is located in the second stanza, “Scent of magnolia sweet and fresh, And the sudden smell of burning flesh!” These two lines cause the reader to compare not only, the sweet smell of a flower to the appalling scent of burning flesh, but to compare the most beautiful things the South is known for, to the most horrendous act that began in that region. This line also uses sensory language to compel the readers to relate their sense of smell to the poem to force them to realize just how horrific theses actions were and still are.Another one of the strategies that Abel Meeropol used to force the readers to fully understand these monstrous acts was vivid imagery. The first occasion the author uses imagery is “Blood on the leaves and blood on the root,” at this point in the poem, it is not clear what happened that the author is referring to but it was so grim that it literally left blood on the leaves and the roots of the tree. This line forces the reader to picture the gruesome scene of an event that caused so much blood to cover the leaves and the roots of the tree.
There is a line in this poem in which the author used satire as another method of convincing the reader to realize the truth about these lynchings. The people who are to blame for these lynchings see themselves as “gallant” for using the victim as an example and for taking someone’s life in their own hands, despite the possible innocence of the victim. “Pastoral scene of the gallant South,” In this line, the author is using satire to criticize the South for its idealized perception of the culture and for not realizing the atrocious actions that culture was built upon for decades. Another example of vivid imagery in this poem are in the last few lines of the poem. “Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck, For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck, For the sun to rot, for a tree to drop,” These lines describe the aftermath of this horrible act in which the bodies were left to hang in the trees for days to serve as a warning for other people.
After reading the poem in its entirety, it is clear that the “fruit” the author is referring to is a lifeless body hanging from a tree.