“Hard rock returns to prison from the hospital for the criminally insane” is a poem written by Etheridge Knight.
Hard Rock is a strong-minded and rebellious African- American prisoner that was in prison for a very long time he had the kind of attitude that came across as a ‘ take no shit from anybody’ kind of attitude. Hard Rock had been through and suffered many lots of punishment and physical injury through his time of being in the prison. The man had a highly bad reputation and most people considered him as a guy with a terrible reputation and his personality was unbreakable. The poem shows us the change in Hard rocks personality and character after the lobotomy surgery that he receives because he is forced to get it done.
Eutheridge Knight develops a couple of different themes and ideas towards us in the poem. the main idea of this poem is slavery, we see this through quotes and examples. Before the lobotomy, Hard rock represented the prisoners in a way that they were too scared to do things themselves, although when Hard Rock gets his lobotomy, the prisoners are just left almost lifeless because they are so hopeless, the surgery represented in a way that there was a loss of possibility as the prisoners realised that Hard Rock is gone and that he would never go back to being what he was like before the surgery, “And we turned away, our eyes on the ground. Crushed. He had been our Destroyer, the doer of things we dreamed of doing but could not bring ourselves to do” this quote proved that Hard Rock seemed to be like protester for the slavery that went on in the United States, and all the prisoners in the United States. Hard Rock didn’t stand down to the prison guards he demanded justice not through their ways but through his own ways and this was violence. “Hard Rock was known not to take no shit from nobody, and he had the scars to prove it: split purple lips, lumped ears, welts above his yellow eyes and one long scar that cut across his temple and plowed through a thick canopy of kinky hair.” this surgery was a lobotomy surgery where Hard Rock had part of his brain cut out and then electricity was shot through it to supposedly help him stop being such a physco. this surgery was forced on him and shows us that the way that prison systems worked was cruel to its prisoners when there was the times of slavery.
I learnt a lot of different things about society and punishments that prisons undergo on prisoners out of New Zealand. One of these being that punishments that happen over in other parts of the world are not often noticed in our schools or taught about in New Zealand, therefore, this poem about Hard Rock taught me a punishment that happens which is a lobotomy in the front of the head. this emphasises that the race relations have got a long way to go in America compared to in New Zealand and that their system is a whole lot stricter and taken more seriously than here.
I would recommend that this poem would be best aimed at senior students because although I found it a bit hard to understand at the beginning this would be a good eye opener and teach older students because it shows certain aspects of slavery and the society. this would also be a good poem for these people to read because it shows us that people over in other parts of the world undergo horrible treatments/psychosurgery and procedures to help the phsyco issues that they have, this would be good to know about because it shows that outside of our country there is a lot of different punishments and procedures in prisons compared to the ones that prisoners undergo here in New Zealand.
I found that this poem related to the book “The Boy in Striped Pyjamas” because it had the similar idea of how people are treated and that people shouldn’t be treated this bad. even though the prisoners had previously done something bad or just because they were phsycos this shouldn’t mean that they get psychosurgery procedures forced onto them. just like in the boy in striped pyjamas how they shouldn’t have been forced into the gas chamber to be killed when the two boys didn’t know where they were going.