Discuss the role played by prejudices in the poem ‘The cold within’ by James Patrick Kinney
James Patrick Kinney’s poem ‘The Cold Within’ is all about discrimination based on prejudices and its unpleasant consequences. The six persons who gathered around the fire in that chill winter night possessed a log of wood each. But all of them rejected to share their logs to keep the fire burning. Five of them were prejudiced against one another upon petty things like colour, race, religion, social class etc. while the last one was an opportunist.
The white man was prejudiced against the black one and the black man found it his chance to take revenge against the white for all the insults. The poor man was prejudiced that the rich are idle and he should not spend his log to help such men. On the other hand, the rich had a prejudice that the poor were lazy and shiftless and he should keep what he had earned from those fellows. One man found that another one did not share same religious faith as him, so he should not share his wood with that man. The last one would only give something in return of something given to him.
Eventually they were seen frozen to death each holding on grimly to a log of wood. And this was due to their prejudiced mind and selfishness even in the time of need. So prejudice plays the role of a destroyer here. The poem is a simple yet powerful reminder that if we fail to get over our prejudices in the time of need, the very existence of mankind is at stake.