Name Instructor Class 4 March 2013 Truth about Form and Substance: Idealized versus Real Identity in Carson’s “Audubon” If the truth is not socially appealing, some people think it is better to wrap it in deceptive packaging to become more acceptable…
For Carson, however, these realist works are not authentic because they signify forced renditions of natural birds. She presents a unique notion on the difference between substance and form in human identity. In “Audubon,” Carson uses image, diction, sarcasm, and metaphor to argue that, when people are blinded with their love for physical appearance and social stratification, they cannot perceive the difference between human form and substance and see the truth about their identities. The poem employs images of inauthentic portrayals of birds to depict the disparity between people’s perception and the reality of their identity. The images of the birds cannot be trusted as truthful because they are dead, in the same way that perceptions of humanity tend to be false because people base them on idealistic, but inaccurate, views of themselves. Carson puts open and close quotation marks on the phrase “drawn from nature” (2) because Audubon did not paint them as they are. Audubon paints them, not as they are, but as how he wants them to be. Carson accentuates that “…[Audubon] hated the unvarying shapes/of traditional taxidermy” (5-6). She suggests that he is not satisfied with the roughness of actual animal nature. He prepares them to be more palatable to his tastes and audience. But to change nature indicates deception. Some people also enjoy deceiving others with appearances. They will enhance or hide their natural features, in order for them to be acceptable in their society. Furthermore, a number of people take pains in being who they are not. Carson emphasizes how Audubon changes what a bird must be, according to how he wants them to be seen. She describes the “flexible armatures of bent wire and wood/ on which he arranged bird skin and feathers” (7-8). Nothing is natural in his paintings because the actions of the birds and their appearances are contrived. Audubon’s birds are healthy and colorful, but in their real habitats, they might be more unkempt and thinner. Some people want to be seen as beautiful too, and so they change their physical appearance. As a result, they become arranged beauties, far from their real identities. In addition, people pretend to be perfect, when inside, they are torn apart. The “unvarying shapes” of “traditional taxidermy” are chaotic images (5-6). They are accurate emblems of disorder inside humanity. Carson widens the horrifying image of the artificial birds. She illustrates “whole eviscerated birds/in animated poses” (10-11). These birds are disemboweled and posed to look better. The poem suggests how several people want to change their inner identities to become more perfect outside. Their animated poses, nevertheless, defy their intrinsically untidy nature. The forced images of the birds startle readers, pushing them to realize that Audubon’s birds are not real, in the same way that what people often see as their identities may also be unreal. While images emphasize the contrast between real and contrived identities, the poem employs diction to exhort the banality of sophisticated language, which emphasizes the banality of human need for social stratification that they use to divide themselves from “inferior” others. The diction of the poem is sophisticated, which targets the upper class. Carson absorbs the language of a scientist, specifically, an ornithologist to convey a superior character. Words such as “taxidermy” (6), “ ...
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