Through the Tunnel

Marina Huth
Professor Radtke
English 14
October 1, 2011
The poem, “Through the Inner City to the Suburbs,” by Maya Angelou, distinguishes the difference between high and low classes. The speaker, who is a train porter, observes his work environment on the train and the “sassy” people he serves.
The train porter is professional while being on the job. The train is “secured by sooted windows,” which show the safety of the train and only the high class passengers are able to afford tickets.   The second stanza creates a contrasting imagery of the porter looking out the window and seeing how dirty the streets of the city are because of “scattered watermelon seeds,” compared to the passengers on the train having a good time and their splendid display. The passengers are symbolized as “gems” that are “unsaleable and dear.” This shows that the train porter has to treat them as they are delicate with care and respect as one would do for a gem.
Although he is a train porter, he also has a personal life where he is able to converse and have free time with his co-workers during his break. In the fourth stanza, we can relate the workers to “images framed picture perfect” as imagery versus reality because when one looks at an image, for instance, a painting, one would see beauty in it rather than putting themselves in what reality is really like. The workers relate to imagery versus reality because when they are on their job, they maintain professionally, but when they are on break, they joke around playfully, sharing “dirty stories in changing rooms / accompanying the slaps of wet towels and / toilet seats.”
As the train arrives in the suburbs, the passengers unload their stuff, heading to their “dreaded homes.” This is ironic because these people have so much and they take everything for granted. Even though they feel like they have so little, according to the last three lines in the last stanza, “the dark figures dancing / and grinning. Still / Grinning,” gives a...