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United Fruit Co. Company Poem Summary, Analysis & Exercise

The poem United Fruit Company is considered as a social protest, and the protest topic is the history of the inhumane doing of “The United Fruit Co...

Summary & Analysis of the Poem United Fruit Co.

United Fruit Co. Company Poem Summary, Analysis & Exercise
United Fruit Co. Company Poem Summary, Analysis & Exercise


Introduction 

The poem United Fruit Company is considered as a social protest, and the protest topic is the history of the inhumane doing of “The United Fruit Company” in the area of Central America. This poem is suitable for the comparison of the formalist way of viewing a poem and the non-formalist approach: it is based on historical facts, but carefully written so if we know nothing we can still understand it. 

Summary of the Poem

The poem United Fruit Company is the satirical portrayal of the multinationals, who had invaded the countries rather than doing what they had disguised themselves as doing. They worsened the situation by exploiting the workers, bribing the dictators in power during those days, and manipulating the decisions of such leaders to their advantage. Those companies influenced the region since they rewarded the leaders who sacrificed their people in exchange for favours.

An excellent example is the Banana Massacres, where the military opened fire on a group of striking workers, killing an estimated 2000 workers and wounding others. In the poem, P.Neruda uses the metaphor of the flies to refer to the tyrants who benefited by killing their citizens to gain favours and resources from these dominating companies. The success of the poem “The United Fruit Company” does not fall in that it encouraged the people to take up arms against such companies as the ‘‘United Fruit Co’’.

It also gives a more in-depth insight into the situations with the banana countries under the influence of the tyrants such as Trujillo, Tacho, Martinez, and Ubico. Pablo Neruda uses biblical phrases in the poem to satirize the justification that imperialism received in comparison to the corruption and evil deeds committed by these companies.

This poem and other works by other artists of the time, such as Miguel Angel Asturias and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, are responsible for the rise of the rebellions and resistance that resulted in many revolutions in Latin America. Pablo Neruda’s “United Fruits Company” is timeless as far as the issue it sought to address remains. That includes the aspects of Neo-Colonialism and Imperialism, which exercised on many developing nations by the developed countries.

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The popularity of United Fruit Company

Pablo Neruda, a great Spanish poet, and writer wrote ‘The United Fruit Company’. It is a narrative poem about anti-imperialism or capitalism. First published in Spanish in 1950 and later translated into English, the poem became a swan song in the dictatorial regimes for the freedom-loving people. The poem speaks about different companies and the reason behind their establishment. It illustrates how these companies have changed their titles with time; however, their manners of operation are still the same even after years of their establishment. The speaker effectively portrayed the historical context of the multinational companies.

United Fruit Company As a Representative of Reality

This thought-provoking piece describes how the arrival of the United Fruit Company alters the fabric of Latin America. The poem begins with a biblical tone where the poet says that God has given the authority to the imperialists to rule his state. He states how the arrival of Coca-Cola, Ford Motors, Anaconda, and other companies has robbed the delicacy, innocence, and sweetness of Latin America. He compares the United Fruit Company with flies and illustrates how such companies have overshadowed the great sacrifices of our people. He laments how these blood-thirsty dictators have taken the valuable resources of America at the expense of the poor people. They ruthlessly kill and oppress poor people for the sake of their gain. Toward the end of the poem, the speaker draws our attention to the sufferings of the people, arguing that the destructive and oppressive operations of the United Fruit Company cast a dark shadow on the people living in Latin America. In short, the poem compares capitalists to colonials, who aim to use a place and people for their benefits, while the workers stay poor.

Major Themes in The United Fruit Company

Corruption, imperialism, the quest for wealth, and land are the major themes underlined in this poem. Throughout the text, the speaker tries to explain how the innocent people of Latin America suffer when the companies fool them and destroy their land and lifestyles in the name of modernity and prosperity. He points out the oppression, cruelty, and injustice brought by these companies, presenting vivid pictures of how the owners of the companies tend to manipulate the government as well as the local workers to force their will on the locals for their petty interests of reaping more profits. Their greedy nature has stained the fabric of Latin America, making the life of laymen miserable and meaningless.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in “The United Fruit Company”

literary devices are very important elements of a literary text as they bring richness to the text and also make the reader understand the story. Pablo Neruda has also made this poem superb by using such devices. Here is the analysis of some literary devices used in this poem.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line. For example, the sound of /a/ in “that has no name, a fallen cipher” and the sound of /i/ in “It rechristened its territories”.

  2. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line in quick succession. For example, the sound of /d/ in “of modest blood and marmalade” and the sound of /z/ in “circus flies, wise flies.”

  3. Anaphora: It refers to the repetition of a word or expression in the first part of some verses. The word “Flies” is repeated in the first stanza of the poem to emphasize the point. For example,

“Trujillo flies, Tacho flies,

Carias flies, Martinez flies,

Ubico flies, damp flies

of modest blood and marmalade.”

  1. Allusion: Allusion is a belief and an indirect reference of a person, place, thing, or idea of a historical, cultural, political, or literary significance occurring in the text of the poem. Pablo has taken some words from Greek mythology such as “Trujillo flies, Tacho flies,/Carias flies, Martinez flies,” and “the Jehovah parcelled out the earth.”

  2. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break; instead, it rolls over to the next line. For example,

“a cluster of the dead fruit

thrown down on the dump.”

  1. Irony: Irony is a figure of speech in which words are used in such a way that their intended meaning is different from the actual meaning. The title of the poem is ironic as it hints at a company, but the poem is about the destruction the companies have brought to the people of Latin America.

  2. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. For example, “the Fruit Company lands its ships”, “Meanwhile Indians are falling” and “a cluster of the dead fruit/thrown down on the dump.”

  3. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between the objects that are different. The poet has used an extended metaphor of Indians in the last stanzas to show the misery of his people that happened during the early settlements.

“Meanwhile Indians are falling

into the sugared chasms

of the harbours, wrapped

for burials in the midst of the dawn.”

  1. Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from literal meanings. “The United Fruit Company” symbolizes the unpleasant change in Latin America and “blood-thirsty flies” symbolize the supremacy of the company.

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in United Fruit Company

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Free Verse: Free verse is a type of poetry that does not contain patterns of rhyme or meter. This is a free-verse poem with no strict rhyme or metrical pattern.

  2. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are four stanzas in this poem with each comprising a different number of verses.

About the Poem

Origin

First of all, the real name of Pablo Neruda is Neftali Ricardo Reyes Basoalto. He used that pen name because his father did not want him to be a writer. He was known to be a tall, shy and lonesome person. He wrote the poem to bring attention to injustices brought upon the native populations of Central and South America that were the results of American companies and dictators throughout the region who exploited their labour and forcefully suppressed democratic movements. The United Fruit Company strike in Columbia resulted in the deaths of 47 people because the Columbian Army opened fire on them.

Structure and Form

The poem is written in free verse, no rhyme scheme was made. It is made up of four stanzas. The first presents the scene after the creation of the world and the birth of the different companies. The second talks about the dictatorship in South and Central America. The third presents the entrance of the United Fruit Company and the last presents the consequences people face from the arising of the said company.

Theory

Semiotics is a literary theory used in this poem. It focuses on how symbols create meaning in the poem. Archetypal symbols such as Coca-Cola, Anaconda, Ford Motors and flies all create meaning to the poem.

Analysis

The business companies mentioned were the symbols of American industry and corporations. The flies which were repeatedly written symbolize something disgusting. The repetition of such words gives the readers an idea that gives to the visualizing of death or destruction. Words such as succulent, delicate, modest and treasure describe the Latin American counties. It paints a picture of innocence and America was the colonizer of it. The tone of the poem was ironic and cynical. The author emphasized the USA brought ignorant arrogance to the people of Latin America.

Interpretation

Some critiques say that there was a "black agenda" behind this poem because of the line "the dictatorship of flies." The characteristics of flies were compared to the following persons: Trujillo, Tachos, Carias, and Martinez who were known as the dictators of the place during that time. Though it tackles the effects the United Fruit Company brought to the people of Latin and South America, the main goal of this poem is to inform the readers of the things that already happened. The suffering of the people for they were asked to work without the necessary payment. This was the reason why workers of the United Fruit Company did a strike. This is a clarion call that peoples' right to fair treatment should not be neglected. The last stanza expressed the sufferings that the people got out of the United Fruit Company.

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