What is the message that Stephen Spender wants to give through the poem An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum?
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Throughout the poem, the poet talks about the pathetic condition of the children and there is certainly a reason behind it. He calls them “rootless weeds”, “slag heap”, their “slums as big as doom” and like “catacombs”. These words are harsh and depict the way society treats these children.
The poet describes that these children need something else before education and it is food, health, hygiene, shelter and opportunity to escape from the slum which is like cemetery. Without these basic necessities, the students cannot study and thus cannot achieve what books and the pictures on walls show.
In the end, he pleads the privileged class to help these poor children grow or else one day they will ruin their (privileged class) towns and cities.
So, the poet gives the message of social equality, justice and fraternity. He does not want the children to spend their lives in slums. He does not want them to adopt stealing and robbery for the sake of comfort. He desires that they may also get same opportunities which privileged class gets.