Stephanie Hartman: On "The Road"

The first section of "The Book of the Dead," "The Road," claims the national significance of the Gauley Bridge disaster and its centrality to modern American identity. By making the small town, rather than a city such as New York, emblematic of modern America, Rukeyser shifts focus from modernity's towering achievements to its effects upon working-class people; she wants to explore not just its highlights, but the "whole picture." From the first line, "These are the roads you take when you think of your country," Rukeyser forthrightly sets readers within this terrain and implicates them in the events described. The roads transverse America, displacing the city—moving "Past your tall central city's influence" (OS 10)—in favor of a decentered, dispersed version of the country, in which the small rural town of Gauley Bridge is able to stand as a locus of modernization.

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Criticism Overview
Title Stephanie Hartman: On "The Road" Type of Content Criticism
Criticism Author Anne F. Herzog, Janet E. Kaufman Criticism Target Muriel Rukeyser
Criticism Type Poet Originally Posted 22 May 2020
Publication Status Excerpted Criticism Publication ""How Shall We Tell Each Other of the Poet?": The Life and Writing of Muriel Rukeyser"
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