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High Holy Days by Jane Shore

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Victoria Slagle

AP English and Comp

Mrs. Anderson

October 4, 2018

Faith and Doubt

        The poem “High Holy Days” by Jane Shore, follows a young Jewish girl who is at a service. The girl is depicted to be picked as the “Chosen One” during the service. This is depicted throughout the poem by diction, tone, and imagery.

        Diction is used throughout the poem to help us understand the emotions of the girl as the poem progresses. At the beginning of the poem, the girl doesn’t understand fully why she at the service and is bored. Shore opens the poem with, “It was hot. A size too large, my wool winter scratched.” to show readers that she was more concerned about her coat than what was going on around her. Once we discover she is at a service, her disinterest is also shown by her descriptions of the people around her. The specific detail used to describe them shows us that she is more concerned with them than she is with the Rabbi and the service. However, the diction used shifts once it is assumed that she is the “Chosen One”. This is shown by the nose bleed she gets during the service. The choice of a nose bleed shows the sacrifice and most likely blood shed she will go through by being the so called “Chosen One”.

        The tone in the beginning of the poem is very disinterested and bored. This goes along perfectly with the speaker’s boredom and disinterest in being there. However, there is also a curious tone a little further on in the poem when she does start to take notice in service and becomes more curious about her religion. The main tone switch occurs however, is when it becomes noticeably more serious. This is when she gets the nose bleed and accepts that she will be the one to protect her community from any dangers.

        The imagery used in the poem helps us put together everything that is going on around the girl. It helps us put together an image of the synagogue with the description of the broken windows and the men and women that sit around her. We are also able to picture when the young girl gets the nose bleed with the lines, “I felt faint. I breathed out sharply- my nose splattering blood across the page”. We are also able to put together an image of her at the end of the poem leaving the service as if being guided by God in the last few lines of the poem, “As if God held me in His fist, we stepped out into the dazed traffic of another business day- past shoppers, past school in session as usual.  

        Throughout this poem, the author uses diction, image, and tone to help us readers understand the main idea from the story. With the help of those 3 devices we are to understand that the young girl accepts the fact that will be the “Chosen One” for her community.

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