Speaker and characters

The speaker

The speaker, or lyrical I, in “Strange Fruit” by Abel Meeropol is absent and describes everything in the third-person.

As the poem was inspired by a photograph of a real life event, we can assume that the speaker might represent Abel Meeropol himself and the characters might represent Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith, the two African-Americans from the photo who were lynched by a white mob.

Though the speaker does not make his presence felt, he comes across as ironical and critical of what happened to the men, based on the description he makes:

Pastoral scene of the gallant south,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth, (ll. 5-6)

The whole scene is obviously far from pastoral (idyllic); it is rather grotesque. Another indication of the speaker’s pity and sympathy for the dead mean is the use of the phrase “bitter crop” (l. 12)...

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