A Short Analysis of The Vacant Lot

A Short Analysis of The Vacant Lot by Gwendolyn Brooks

For this poetic analysis, I've chosen the poem "the vacant lot" by Gwendolyn Brooks. You can read it at Poetry Foundation at the below link. The poem is a part of the collection that comprises the book "Selected Poems" by Gwendolyn Brooks. You can find a link to the book below. I will focus primarily on imagery.

This poem seems to be about a woman, Mrs. Coley, and the way her daughter treats her new husband. A lot is said in this poem of 12 lines. Mrs. Brooks makes use of metaphor, the sense of sight and even a bit of metonymy to develop the imagery in this poem. She begins with metonymy, with a phrase that represents the homes of Chicago when she writes "three-flat brick." In the next line we are told that it isn't there anymore which does two things for the reader. First, it further develops our image of the Chicago home and it evokes a feeling of emptiness.

The next image we are presented with is that of our second character in this poem, a woman who is described as fat and little. The next line tells us more about this woman as Mrs. Brooks uses the action word "burst." Our image of this woman should not be that of a meek woman at this point. We also understand that she lives in the basement, but why?

Our image of the mother has changed as well because she says that she's "all done with seeing" this girl she described as fat and little. Mrs. Coley has a distain for this girl, who we discover with our next image is her daughter.

Our next image is that of the third character in this poem, a man we are told is Mrs. Coley's son-in-law, who she also has some distain towards. He's described as someone who is always smiling as there seems to be a very strong focus on the shape and color of his teeth. We also understand him to be foolish since his wife is further described as someone who sees other men in their home behind his back. Maybe this ignorance is why Mrs. Coley shows distain for him.

The fact that Mrs. Coley's daughter cheats could be the reason she lives in the basement. We are, however, still left wondering why the feeling of emptiness at the beginning of the poem. Shouldn't Mrs. Coley be happy the home is gone since she had to deal with two people living there she cared little for?

Brooks, Gwendolyn (2006). The Vacant Lot. In Selected Poems. Retrieved from


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