"Lockers" (Erica Fryberg) Poetry Analysis

The poem “Lockers” by Erica Fryberg describes the pain and challenges a girl goes through while at school. Two predominant themes in this poem include bullying and pressure from school work. Being a teenager and knowing the fact that high school life is not easy, I am able to relate to this poem, thus causing me to enjoy and appreciate what the author has written. One of the most apparent themes in “Lockers” is academic pressure and lack of freedom.

This is clearly illustrated when Fryberg writes: “Tests, deadlines, homework … pressure” in the first line of the third stanza. She believes that school is overloading her and taking control of clear thoughts. She has a strong desire to get rid of this stress and anxiety however she knows that she is unable to, therefore she asks: “Why can’t those be concealed in lockers? ”. Fryberg uses the word ‘prison’ as a metaphor to refer to the locker. She imagines burying the issue in a “prison”; a place where the guilty and wrongdoing are held confined.

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Bullying and peer pressure is another major theme in this poem. This theme is very obvious in the last stanza where Fryberg also expresses the isolation she feels. The line “Gossiping gangs and hostile glares” portrays her fear of bullies and the hurtful words they say. She is afraid of rivalry; this is elaborated through the line “Jealous feuds linked to competitions”. The phrase: “Loneliness, bitter ostracism” indicates that the writer is also scared of rejection and being alone. She dreams of locking away the bullying and isolation.

Fryberg uses a lot of imagery to paint pictures in the reader’s mind throughout the whole poem. She also uses unusual words such as ‘caress’ to describe the waving of cockroach feelers. Her tone gradually becomes more and more angry and aggressive as the poem progresses. “… the door and turn/lose the key” is used in the last line of every verse. This repetition of words links the ideas in the poem. It represents the locking away of the negative thoughts and feelings, like the action of locking something in a locker.

Fryberg engages the reader and encourages them to recognize this association. This poem is mainly targeted to teenagers and young adults. It explores the feelings of school pressure; whether it’s associated with academics or the pressure from peers. Fryberg effectively captures these themes and successfully communicates her message with the reader by using various poetic techniques. I enjoyed this poem and found it very easy to understand the poet’s feelings and what she was trying to convey.