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In The Desert Analysis



Author: poem of Stephen Crane Type: poem Views: 27

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In the desert

I saw a creature, naked, bestial,

Who, squatting upon the ground,

Held his heart in his hands,

And ate of it.

I said: "Is it good, friend?"

"It is bitter—bitter," he answered;

"But I like it

Because it is bitter,

And because it is my heart."





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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

.: :.

Man at his core is empty, like a wasteland. What worth does he Have? He has his own identity, his will to survive amid a hostile environment. The narrator is, as well, a fellow, or comrade, though Crane usesthe narration ironically.

| Posted on 2017-08-12 | by a guest


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My first impressions were that it had been concerned about the theme of self love, loving yourself no matter how vile or hideous you or others say you are. How he uses a narrator in first person to distance from the creature, rather than having the narrator the creature itself sort of infers that there is a consciousness, a knowing that you find yourself vile, or believe yourself to be so, looking from another perspective. The narrator also uses quite derogatory words, "creature" "naked, bestial" "squatting". He doesn't specify the creature, only specifies how it is naked, bestial, and in a vulgar pose. The heart obviously represents the core of the person, or creature, and eating it for me I interpreted as an analysis, or looking into the ego and id of the creature. He uses the verb to eat I feel to maybe infer even more that this creature is so primitive and naive that to eat is the only thing it can do, eat it`s own heart. And despite the heart being bitter, the creature still enjoys it, as the creature said, as it is owned by itself.
I think he also uses the setting, a desert to infer even more that this a barren, bleak, solitary place and that the creature, being alone and owning nothing can do nothing but to eat its own heart.
To me, I interpreted this as self love, and how important self love is especially in times of solitude. Though there are many other interpretations such as maybe a view on humanity, its integral sinfulness and such.

| Posted on 2017-07-08 | by a guest


.: :.

I believe that what Stephen crane is saying is that life can be a desert empty and lonely. And when you lost and alone in a desert you don't have anyone or anything besides your self and maybe you find that your personality is bitter and you need to accept it and love your self no mater what

| Posted on 2015-04-28 | by a guest


.: :.

This has always been my favorite poem, without even taking the time to ask myself why. It hit me on a gut level and I felt immediate and grand understanding of it, never bothering to construct any inner explanation as to why or how I understand it. To me, the two friends in the desert are both one person. And they are also all of us. At our core, stripped down, we are vulnerable, lonely, shameful beasts whose only grand possession is the heart pulsing within, propelling us along. No matter how much we dishonor it, no matter how much we scar it, no matter the beating it takes - it is the one thing we can hold up and say, "this is mine and it has beauty." Taking a bite, we can surely taste the anguish and futility and bitterness that can be there. But it is good because it is ours, because it has beauty. We put, or allowed, the bitterness in that heart. Just as how we placed, or allowed, all the love and goodness that was, or will be, in that heart as well.

| Posted on 2015-01-03 | by a guest


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The phrase is, "eat your heart out". The speakerdoesn't recommend the process, nonetheless, he knows it quite well. Therefore the speaker finds the process far too engaging.

| Posted on 2015-01-01 | by a guest


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I think this poem is written from the perspective of God viewing "man". His heart represents free will and the act of "eating" represents the flawed actions of humanity i.e. hedonism but those acts are self fulfilling which creates a cycle of self destruction that turns "man" back into beast.

| Posted on 2014-11-20 | by a guest


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I believe this poem is representing a dark side of human nature, in which an individual will inflict emotional pain on to themselves and enjoy it.
The writer pains a picture of a dark creature, and he relates to this creature. He understands it. The creature eats his heart, meaning he intentionally feels his emotions and he says he likes them because they are bitter, and because they are his own.
Have you ever wallowed in your own misery simply to feel your own misery? And a part of you deep down craves this misery?
Maybe it's just me.

| Posted on 2014-10-27 | by a guest


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The poem depicts a creature (Perhaps once human) who out of pure hatred devours its own heart. This is what hatred does. It causes desolation and debasement and yet there is a certain kind of pleasure in it that defies all logic. To me, the creature is Lucifer.

| Posted on 2014-08-07 | by a guest


.: :.

The poem depicts a creature (Perhaps once human) who out of pure hatred devours it's own heart. This is what hatred does. It causes desolation and debasement and yet there is a certain kind of pleasure in in it that defies all logic.

| Posted on 2014-08-07 | by a guest


.: :.

The creature in the desert eats his heart. His heart represents all of his life's experiences: difficult, tragic and disappointing. His heart is better because life has been bitter, but the creature likes the bitterness. It is his bitterness. His heart. He would not trade his troubles for anyone else's troubles. The poet calls the creature (undoubtedly a man) "friend" becasue because he understands this.

| Posted on 2014-08-05 | by a guest


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I tend to concur with -ling on this one. This is about the 'outer' person we present to the world and ourselves meeting directly the inner 'bestial' person with nothing but himself. Who has nothing other than his bitter heart to hold. When I read this I see an emphasis on the my of '...Because it is MY heart'. Of note, this poem has gained some popularity for current veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The imagery is quite profound and the sentiment reciprocated by many who have met that bestial man in the desert firsthand and now carry their own bitter hearts.

| Posted on 2014-04-26 | by a guest


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What if the Heart was meant to throw us off and was figurative speech...
What if 'Held his heart in his hands' referred to his love? And that the poem speaks of the figurative cannibalistic nature of humankind?
Raaji.

| Posted on 2013-12-04 | by a guest


.: :.

Stephen Crane from November 1, 1871 to June 5, 1900. He was an American novelist, short story writer, poet and journalist. Stephen Crane was a realistic writer, as opposed to many of the writers of his time. Many of his writing were pay attention to seeking truth from facts. He started writing for a very little age. When he started to work, he was working as a writer and reporter. He wrote notable works in the Realist tradition. And his late life was experiencing in the wars.
I like this poem was because first I thought it simple and easy to understand. But when I began to tried to figure out what is this mean, I read the other people’ common, I have more understand about this poem. And the common I wrote is combined different opinion from different people’s opinions. To me, the “creature” in the poem was represented himself, the negative imagine of him. He was broken by the realistic world. And the heart was the only thing that was belongs to him because the creature was naked, nothing was his, and he only had his heart. He was a realistic writer, so he didn’t write his heart as a sugar heart as the romanticized will write. This is a true heart.
He wrote about the creature was eating his heart, and the heart was bitten. The heart was having his conscious experiencing of the world, so it is bitter. And the creature ate the heart and like it because only he can understand the bitterness of the heart, this was about what he had experienced, his own experienced. This was like a memory of his life, when he recalled what happened in his life, it is meaningful, so he enjoyed it.
- ling

| Posted on 2013-03-07 | by a guest


.: :.

I\'ve loved this poem for a long time! In a few lines, Crane seems to be describing the way that unevolved aspects of ourselves want to cling to negative emotions. I know I have certain ingrained negative thought patterns which repeat over and over (masochistic or self-loathing, as one contributor mentioned). This creature represents the self-poisoned \"dark side\" of our nature which enjoys wallowing in self-pity. There is some satisfaction
to being \"vile\" and feeling pride in that.

| Posted on 2013-01-08 | by a guest


.: :.

This poem is about a creature who not only accepts but embraces the evil withing him.

| Posted on 2012-12-31 | by a guest


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The creature is turning the question, \"Is it good, friend?\" back on the questioner. He describes the taste, and his personal satisfaction derived from it. It is up to the questioning poet to decide if that is actually a Good thing or not.

| Posted on 2012-12-01 | by a guest


.: :.

Reading the poem, one sympathizes with the creature rather than the man. Though the creature is bestial and naked there is this link to humanity in its most basic form. We are, in fact, nothing but. \"It is bitter\" says everything about what the creature has been through, all the wrong and the pain and hurt and his own wrong-doing and all the things done to him. This is what I can relate to most. This feeling of my heart being bitter. And this again is so very human despite the grotesque scene. Liking it, not although but BECAUSE it is bitter expresses how we can\'t be what we are without everything that made us, even if it hurts. It also says a lot about acceptance, forgiveness, being able to love yourself the way you are, even if nobody else does. And because it is my heart - it\'s my essence, it\'s me, it\'s what makes me and it\'s mine, nobody can take it away from me.
To me, one of the most beautiful poems ever written.

| Posted on 2012-11-21 | by a guest


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I believe the poem is about redmeption. The man in the desert has realised the decisions he\'s made, the wrong things in his life, the \'bitterness\' if you will, is nothing more than destroying everything he\'s worked for. And in his mind, by consuming his heart, the centre of everything he is, he is saving himself. Thus, \"But I like it, because it is bitter\" he explaining that even though its bitter, he enjoys it because he\'s saving whats left of his soul, and the bitterness is gone.

| Posted on 2012-10-24 | by a guest


.: :.

I believe the poem is about redmeption. The man in the desert has realised the decisions he\'s made, the wrong things in his life, the \'bitterness\' if you will, is nothing more than destroying everything he\'s worked for. And in his mind, by consuming his heart, the centre of everything he is, he is saving himself. Thus, \"But I like it, because it is bitter\" he explaining that even though its bitter, he enjoys it because he\'s saving whats left of his soul, and the bitterness is gone.

| Posted on 2012-10-24 | by a guest


.: :.

I think that the creature is all that is left of humanity, the scraps of some major devastation which is symbolized by the desert. The creature is eating his heart because it is all he has left. He likes it because it is his and because it is the last part of his being that he can call his own to do with as he pleases. The fact that the narrator uses the word \"friend\" symbolizes the fact that he somehow feels sympathetic towards the creature.
The depth of the poem depends mainly onthe reader, who may relate somehow to the speaker. The creature may simbolize both hope and death, for his mere survival is object of hope, but the fact that he must eat his own self to keep alive is also a symbol of despair and death.

| Posted on 2012-10-22 | by a guest


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I interpreted this poem as a metaphor for self loathing. The creature is disgusting enough to represent a human in the less than proud moment of pity, but also human enough to empathize with. He consumes his hear, which is bitter with pain, because part of him enjoys this self destructive, self loathing pain. I saw this poem as an attempt (successful in my eyes) to describe the interesting human trait of educing your own emotional pain.

| Posted on 2012-05-15 | by a guest


.: :.

In my opinion, the creature is man. The act of eating his heart is less of destroying himself, more of accepting it, allowing himself to see a clear self-image. When he says that he likes it because it is bitter, he means, to me, that he is accepting that he is bitter, that his soul is bitter, and that he is almost proud to be bitteer, because it is himself speaking, and not the words of other men, as we often put in our own mouths,

| Posted on 2012-04-13 | by a guest


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I think this poem signifies the meaning the heart holds in relation to a human being. The heart is the centre and the core of one\'s very being, it defines everything you are. If a person is happy, their heart will be happy, if a person is bitter (perhaps due to some unpleasant experiences in their life), their heart will be bitter (as is the creature\'s in this poem). The creature eats his own heart, therefore he consumes the very thing that defines him. He says that he likes it, despite its bitterness \"because it is his heart.\" It is almost as if he HAS to like it, because it is essentially the very thing that defines him; its his identity, his very being. This is a metaphor for the heart of every person, and how we all feel obligated to love ourselves, because in the grand scheme of things, that is all we truly have.

| Posted on 2012-04-11 | by a guest


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to me i think i eating of the heart symbolizes the war that made the brothers kill each other

| Posted on 2012-01-20 | by a guest


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When I read the poem, I see the creature literally eating its own heart. The heart being a symbol of life, the creature is eating itself; destroying itself. I think that the creature symbolises a broken man with a bitter heart who loses himself in the process of feeding on his own bitterness and self-pity and, in so doing, destroys himself.

| Posted on 2011-09-27 | by a guest


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The poem describes the dehumanizing effects of bitterness and more importantly pride in being bitter. Dehumanizing both in terms of becoming bestial and inhabiting and environment devoid of other beneficial relationships (i.e., the desert).

| Posted on 2011-05-19 | by a guest


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To me this poem means a human is all alone and the only thing he has in his life is his heart. He has to accept that this is all he has and accept that life can be (bitter) and not how you want it to be.

| Posted on 2011-05-17 | by a guest


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To me, the poem describes of those who are happy in their own misery. \"Is it good, friend?\" Have you ever felt pity for someone who couldn\'t be bothered to help themselves?

| Posted on 2011-02-24 | by a guest


.: :.

In the desert
(A desert is a barren, empty setting, i.e. a void)
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
(A creature, not a man, though he does speak. Naked, bestial to imply a non-existent relation with its fellow \'men\')
Who, squatting upon the ground,
(While being the position of defecation, squatting is also the only practical way to sit in a desert)
Held his heart in his hands,
(His heart is a separate entity from his self, his body and emotions are disconnected.)
And ate of it.
(His heart is his strength, a necessity, his figurative food. The creature, however, literally consumes it.)
I said: \"Is it good, friend?\"
(The creature is called \'friend,\' which implies the \'I\' sees something of himself in it. The axis of this entire poem is the meaning you take from the \'good\' here, but it is a personal meaning.)
\"It is bitter—bitter,\" he answered;
(Bitter is the taste mostly associated with poison. And doubly bitter at that, hardly something edible.)
\"But I like it
(Like, a weaker and perhaps more visceral emotion than love, but perhaps a more lasting one.)
Because it is bitter,
(Because his heart causes him pain, he enjoys it.)
And because it is my heart.\"
(\'It\' has become \'my heart,\' a part of him, and he is able to take satisfaction from that.)
Does the poem tell the story of man\'s struggle with his emotions? A man stricken, in the desert living like a wild beast, though he speaks, implying he has not always been there, but has ended up in the desert for a reason. But he takes the courage to possess his heart, bitterness and all, and truly bond to it.

| Posted on 2010-12-11 | by a guest


.: :.

The heart is the only thing the creature possesses and can call his own. He has no clothes, probably no place to call home, and no social network or any kind. All he has is his heart which includes his conscious experiencing of the world. It is bitter and harsh, but he has learned to accept and like life for what it is.

| Posted on 2010-09-19 | by a guest


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To me the line is about how when you hate to do or say something it feels good when you do it to others because you know just how bitter that feeling is. And because it is your heart.

| Posted on 2010-08-02 | by a guest


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I believe it to mean that there is exhaltaion in accepting one's responsibility for their actions no matter how bitter it may be. By the creature being at his lowest and most vulnerable he can at least be proud of the fact that he retains the ability to accept his status and understand that he brought about his own debasement. And take enjoyment from it.

| Posted on 2010-07-09 | by a guest


.: :.

I do not think that, as previous posters have implied, the man in the desert is a positive image at all. After all, he is described as "bestial" by the speaker; the base word "squatting" also has a negative connotation. I think that this poem is about man's tendency to dwell unnecessarily in the negative. Not only is his heart "bitter," but he is eating and enjoying it. Rather than trying to improve his lot, he is literally "feeding" off his own misery.

| Posted on 2010-04-14 | by a guest


.: :.

I believe that this poem is simply about a man craving truth and reality. Stephen Crane was an extremely realistic writer, as opposed to many of the writers of his time. So perhaps the creature is eating of his heart because the bitterness is real- it's not a romanticized, sugar-coated candy heart; it's a true heart, which has been broken and burned. It's bitter, but real, and that reality is sometimes even more beautiful than all of the pretty glass hearts of romantic writers' works.

| Posted on 2010-04-04 | by a guest


.: :.

I believe that this poem is simply about a man craving truth and reality. Stephen Crane was an extremely realistic writer, as opposed to many of the writers of his time. So perhaps the creature is eating of his heart because the bitterness is real- it's not a romanticized, sugar-coated candy heart; it's a true heart, which has been broken and burned. It's bitter, but real, and that reality is sometimes even more beautiful than all of the pretty glass hearts of romantic writers' works.

| Posted on 2010-04-04 | by a guest


.: :.

there is only one explanation it is a creature representing some idiot that is going to commit suicide and his brilliant idea is to eat his heart...once he takes a big bite out of his heart he freaks out because a random dude pops up and asks him questions!

| Posted on 2010-01-18 | by a guest


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to me the poem speaks about the good and bad of the human spirit and how you should like yourself for who you are and the poem shows that by the man eating his own bitter heart and liking it because it is his

| Posted on 2010-01-05 | by a guest


.: :.

to me the poem speaks about the good and bad of the human spirit and how you should like yourself for who you are and the poem shows that by the man eating his own bitter heart and liking it because it is his

| Posted on 2010-01-05 | by a guest




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