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The Boy Died In My Alley

By Gwendolyn Brooks


Analyzation By: Luis Arevalo, Luis Reyes, Jude Garza

Gwendolyn Brooks, "The Boy Died in My Alley"

to Running Boy

The Boy died in my alley
without my Having Known.
Policeman said, next morning,
"Apparently died Alone."

"You heard a shot?" Policeman said.
Shots I hear and Shots I hear.
I never see the Dead.

The Shot that killed him yes I heard
as I heard the Thousand shots before;
careening tinnily down the nights
across my years and arteries.

Policeman pounded on my door.
"Who is it?" "POLICE!" Policeman yelled.
"A Boy was dying in your alley.
A Boy is dead, and in your alley.
And have you known this Boy before?"

I have known this Boy before.
I have known this boy before, who ornaments my alley.
I never saw his face at all.
I never saw his futurefall.
But I have known this Boy.


I have always heard him deal with death.
I have always heard the shout, the volley.
I have closed my heart-ears late and early.
And I have killed him ever.

I joined the Wild and killed him
with knowledgeable unknowing.
I saw where he was going.
I saw him Crossed.  And seeing,
I did not take him down.

He cried not only "Father!"
but "Mother!
Sister!
Brother."
The cry climbed up the alley.
It went up to the wind.
It hung upon the heaven
for a long
stretch-strain of Moment.

The red floor of my alley
is a special speech to me.

Summary of the Poem



This poem was written by Gwendolyn Brooks. The perspective is from a woman who lives in the Alley mentioned in the title. The poem mostly deals with the death of a young boy and the fault that lies between the woman and the boys death, despite them not knowing each other. This poem is written and likely takes place in the same time period of 1975. Considering Brooks lived in Chicago for the majority of her life the poem likely takes place in that location as well.

                             Big Picture


Gwendolyn Brooks illustrates the feeling of guilt that is felt by those surrounding an individual whose life is swallowed up by the responsibilities and obligations that come with a gang.

                               Mood/Tone


The mood and tone of this poem is somber and regretful as it circulates around the mistakes of the boy that led to his death

                               Structure


The ten short stanzas of this poem help to emphasize the train of thought that is followed by the narrator and the way that her thoughts change and become more and more regretful as the poem progresses

                               Language 


The use of diction and the phrasing of the stanzas and lines help to continuously convey the main idea of the poem

                            Stanza 1 Analysis


She capitalized “Boy” to give him more presence, although she does not know his name. To her, he is not just any boy, now especially after he has died. She doesnt know him well but she did in fact know him. She capitalizes alone in the stanza to show the sorrow that she feels.

                             Stanza 2 Analysis 



This might go to talk about how the violence in her hometown of chicago and connects in to some of the loses she faced. She capitalizes dead to show that this has happened before.

                           Stanza 3 Analysis



She continues with this normalization of violence in the streets and how his death in despite the sadness is nothing new.  She then goes to describe the shots of the neighborhood through personification and saying how she feels them deep inside.

                           Stanza 4 Analysis



Brooks's repitition of the words "A Boy" in line 14, 15, and 16 and then further and further association of the boy with the narrator brings the reader to associate a sense of guilt with the tragedy of the boy's fate to the narrator, despite the previous stanzas indicating that she had nothing to do with his death.

Stanza 5 Analysis 



Similar to in Stanza 4, there is now an established connection between the fate of the boy in the alley and the actions or knowledge of the narrator. This is done through the continued association of then narrator and the constant use of the phrase "I have known this Boy" in lines 17, 18, and 22.

Stanza 6 Analysis



This phrase in lines 23 and 24 leads the reader to assume that the violence that took place that was made obvious and aware to the narrator was something that, by their point of view, had become something heard too often or was overly repetitive.
This points to line 25 where the narrator states "I have closed my heart-ears late and early," alluding to the idea that the narrator did away with any thoyghts of concern for the Boy that she said she knew. Most likely, that the noise of violence and carnage had become so constant that she had grown to drown them out, leading to her guilt of the Boy's death as she feels her ignorance was the main cause.

Stanza 7 Analysis



In this stanza, the viewer demonstrates that she "did not take him down" but still feels the guilt of his death. This is apparents where it says "I joined the Wild and Killed him." This is a form of juxtaposition .

Stanza 8 Analysis



The viewer claims to hear the boy cry out for loved ones. Gwendolyn Brooks creates sympathy for the boy though her choice of words (diction). The author uses the word "cried" to show the level of the situatoin, and it despite the calling of loved ones for help, no one could help save him from his death.

 Stanza 9 Analysis



This final stanza shows her thoughts of the alley behind her house. Before the dead boy in the alley, the alley was nothing more than a normal alley, however, now that the alley of the floors was red, it will always have a special meaning to her.

Stanza 10 Analysis