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Mosquito By John Updike
The Mosquito By John Updike This poem by Updike describes an ordinarily dull and
bland, if not even annoying pest and one of his dealings with such a creature.
This pest is of course a mosquito, which seems to have made its way into his
bedroom, looking to make a meal out of him. The main point that I think this
poem is trying to convey is that sometimes ordinary or dull occurrences can be
made into a game, and had fun with. No one likes mosquitoes, but when you think
of one as an opponent and it is either kill, or be killed, then you can
understand the mosquito’s point of view. The speaker, who is Updike himself,
seems to want to convey a melancholy affect with the use of his nonchalant
language, as when he makes the mosquito a woman. Who knows, or even cares what a
mosquito is, when it is bugging you, you just want it dead. Which is what he
wants, but the tone remains laid back and lazy. It almost has a sarcastic or
ironic twinge to it. It makes this huge melodrama out of something that is quite
ordinary. Yet he professes the mosquito’s innocence of wrongdoing. All she
wanted was a necessary meal, lest she die, she had to drink of his "fragrant
lake of blood." The diction of the poem is just wonderful and spectacular.
When he says "fine wire of her whine she walked," we all know that he is
describing how a mosquito hums along and winds through the air, with no direct
course, but the picture it creates in your mind is very clear. When he uses"ominous" in the second line, it foreshadows some deep, dark thing to come.
The word fragrant in the second stanza reveals that the mosquito probably cannot
see him, but only smells his delicious blood, as one smells a home cooked meal
from one’s bedroom, down the hall. When he describes himself as a "lavish
field of food," the word lavish jumps out at you. Once again saying that she
in fact did not want to hurt anyone, but only to feast on this wonderful meal
before her. He compares himself with her as if they were raging in some game or
battle; he calls them "opponents." He uses "thread" and "fine wire"
to describe her movement, almost as if she were a puppet. He gives her human
characteristics by saying she has a "nose," and saying that she was"thankful." He says his death movement was "cunning and strong," as if
it took some great skill to kill a mosquito. He describes himself as a "Gargantua,"
as if to say that his opponent never really had a chance. He describes his skin
as a "feast," reinforcing the fact that she was only out to get a meal. She
was "Lulled" by his blood, as if it had sung her a lull-a-by, as if his
blood was a self-defense mechanism, to put to sleep those who would attack him.
The only remorse he had was a "small welt," and a welt is a small enough
thing in its self, I mean, its not a bruise or anything, and a small welt, well,
that’s hardly a welt at all. He describes himself as a "murderer" and the
mosquito as "murdered," because she was, in fact, innocent of any
wrongdoing. All that she was doing was getting herself a meal, and he had killed
her for it. There is much great imagery in this poem. To start off with, when he
describes the flight of the mosquito as walking on a fine wire, we actually see
this insect walking on a fine wire, and can see that to be true in our minds
from past experiences. The mosquito’s camouflage is obviously darkness, and
when she betrays this, she does so with the hum of her wings, or her voice as in
line 3. All that he was to her was a "fragrant lake of blood." This helps to
put the reader in the shoes of the mosquito. All that she saw was like, to us,
this big lake of coke. What crime is it to go and take a few gulps of the coke
lake then? Once again, he compares his body to a big pile of delicious food.
Just imagine your favorite food. Now imagine Shasta Lake drained, and filled
with this food. This is what she sees. Now imagine that you are about to die
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Literature, Aircraft, Hexapoda, Ectoparasites, Mosquito, John Updike
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