Themes

The main themes of the poem “Strange Fruit” by Abel Meeropol are racism and violence. The poem was meant to be a critique of the real-life lynching of two African-American men by a mob of white people who were never trialed or convicted for their acts as a group.

Table of contents

Racism

If the historical background of the poem was not known and the poet had omitted the phrase “black bodies” (l. 3), “Strange fruit” may perhaps have come across simply as a poem against violence. However, the explicit reference to black people indicates the poem is equally about racial discrimination. This theme is strengthened by references to the Southern United States which historically has been more prone to discriminating against African-Americans (it was Southern states that opposed the abolition of slavery during the American Civil War).

The poem illustrates how racism can lead to violent acts...

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