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Influence on Opinions Andrea Dewar Mr.

Kemp ENG 3UI July 9, 2010

Most individuals like to think of themselves as original, but as the world develops, some could say people are becoming more similar while living their fast paced, money-hungry lifestyles. In the slam poem “Scratch and Dent Dreams” by Eric Darby, he shows that a person’s thoughts and behaviours are affected by those around them. People, regardless of their intentions, influence the opinions of others, which can have a positive or negative effect on one’s sense of what values are important to lead a successful life. Darby presents the idea that people give up their dreams because they are told that they are impractical. Although the “ideal” lifestyle of the western world is one with a great amount of material things and money, Darby says it is not the only way to be happy. Another point that he makes is that anyone can make a positive difference on someone else’s view of a situation with the use of a small, but significant gesture. After hearing that success, however the individual defines that, will not be obtained by fulfilling their hopes and dreams, many will stop striving for their goal, and instead take on a new endeavour that will guarantee a result of what others see as achievement. Darby describes the toll a person has taken on the children by telling them his or her view on running an ice cream stand. The poem states, “…two kids are packing up / their peanut butter enterprise / cause somebody told them they’d fail,” (Darby, 67-69). This shows that starting at an early age people are told that what they are doing is not practical. In turn, teaching them not to try to please themselves, but to please others. Eric Darby does say, however, that people do not stop thinking about their personal dreams and goals, even if they do not make them a reality, since the poem mentions “Stationary stars /still flying at the speed of light,” (10-11). Flying or shooting stars make reference to wishes Due to the fact that these stars are not in motion, there is no progress being made to turn the wishes into anything existent. Darby is saying that it is human nature to have dreams, but putting them into action does not always happen because of the

influence those negative people have on one`s opinion of themselves and their abilities. Giving up on a dream to put others’ goals ahead of their own is learned through the power of the influence people have on another person’s outlook. Due to the subconscious need to conform to fit others’ ideas of what normal is, people often think that to be happy having a lot of money is a necessity. “Scratch and Dent Dreams” argues that value by saying, “you see that purple awning flappin’ in the breeze? Well that’s Momma Genuine’s shop. She’s older than all of us put together / but she still laughs like a house,” (22-25). The flapping purple awning puts an image in the reader’s head of a shop that is not very fancy, meaning that Momma Genuine does not possess a lot of money. Her lack of material things and old age are two things that do not represent happiness in the western culture. Momma Genuine changes people’s opinions of what it means to be happy by showing them that it is possible to find joy without having things that please others. Darby says throughout the poem that money is not the answer to finding success. “Now I’m not telling you this to make a profit, / that’s how so many good ideas go wrong,” (74-75). He is telling the reader that many people do not try to accomplish a task for personal satisfaction, but for personal wealth. He says that doing something just to make money has more negative effects than positive. Darby argues that it is not the money that makes something successful, but the pleasure you find during the journey of completing something. The view that many people hold stating that money is necessary to live a fulfilled life can make people feel insignificant without wealth and change their opinion of having extra money. What may seem like an insignificant gesture to one person can have a large impact on someone else. Darby describes Momma Genuine’s products by saying, “Now, she only sells tools but not like ya know, / she’s got saws that put back together, / drills that make whole,” (26-

28). Momma Genuine does not go out of her way to sell these tools, the customers come to her. Using the tools puts the customer’s life back together and makes the most out of their existence. The tools are used to create something great; something original. The tools give them a sense of success and accomplishment which has not otherwise been the feeling when the person does something out of the ordinary. Momma Genuine gives people a new outlook on life and being creative, changing their opinion of themselves and the things around them. With the tools, the reader is told to make a sign that says “tomorrow” and Darby wants “you to hand [the kids] tomorrow. Make sure they know how important it is,” (70-71). This small task will take only minutes out of one’s day, but can affect the children for the rest of their lives. Handing them this sign is a metaphor for presenting them their right to the future; the key to the life of their choice. This could change their opinion of what the expectations placed upon them are, allowing them to break the cycle of living to impress others, not one’s self. A minute undertaking, such as selling tools or making a sign, can alter a person’s view of themselves, their goals, and their expectations. Throughout “Scratch and Dent Dreams,” Darby shows a number of times that people have the power of influence over others, affecting which values are important for one’s accomplishment in life. He demonstrates that a person can be convinced that their dream is not viable by telling them that it is not. Also, happiness is not guaranteed based solely on the amount of money and material things. Darby teaches the reader that a small, genuine gesture can help make a positive change on someone’s opinion of a situation as well. Humans often change their views on something, so it is important that when that change is made it is for the right reasons and will have positive effects on one’s self and those around them.

Andrea Dewar Mr. Kemp ENG 3UI July 9, 2010 Work Cited Darby, Eric. "Scratch and Dent Dreams." Youtube. EricDarby, 6 Feb. 2007. Web. 7 July 2010. <>.