Poem Analysis “Cartoon Physics, Part 1” Nick Flynn centers “Cartoon Physics, Part 1” around childhood innocence. He very strongly urges not only parents, but anyone around a young child to not force upon them knowledge they do not need to know. Flynn captures the simple kid mind and harsh reality with tone, imagery, figurative language, and even the form of the overall poem. There is a stark contrast between tones in the passage. In the first few lines the tone is cold; detached. The actual physics of the never-ending universe would overwhelm a child (2).
They do not need to know that there are galaxies bigger than ours that are “collapsing” (5) at the very moment they eat their lunch. Facts of nature are grim and matches the emotion Flynn conveys. Not only is the diction itself create a tone, but the author’s punctuation helps determine it. Lines 1-6 contains many commas that prolong the sentence making it seem more urgent. Flynn wants the point to get across that certain details are too grim for young children. In the next section, however, the tone changes when he talks about cartoons and the events they depict. Becomes more hopeful and light. Most kids believe there is a solution to everything; that there’s always a hero (15). These two drastic changes represent the differences in a child’s mind and imagination versus the reality adults have to face everyday. Imagery within the poem shows the inside of a child’s imagination. A little girl is playing with her toy bus in a sandbox. She “knows the exact spot” it rides, who will “swim” and “who will be pulled under” (23). She controls the outcomes where there are no surprises.
Her lack of enlightenment from the world protects her, as well s all other children, from tragedies that their simple minds cannot understand. The child is the hero if there is no one else to save the day, but if they’re equipped with the awareness that bad aftermath is possible then their entire outlook will change. It is practically visible: the little girl “[driving] across a city of sand” (21). Her imagination is big and adventurous. Who is to taint that with knowledge? It also says that she will learn a man won’t suffer consequences until he realizes that there are consequences (27).
A person cannot know they’re wrong if they do not know what wrong” even is in the first place. Kids will someday be an adult and have to face adult problems. They will learn that there is good and bad, they will learn not everything is as simple as they used to think. Flynn uses a very unique writing technique known as “free verse”. There is no rhyme nor patterns within the work. Sentences collide with each other. Seemingly random spacing occurs all over the place. However, certain phrases appear to be placed separately for emphasis. Lines 6 and 7 is transitioning from the indifferent tone to a lighter one.
It changes to cartoons which kids are comfortable with, rather than the vast information about the universe. The line “… Earthbound, tangible, disasters, arenas… ” Has a sort of rhythm (14-16). Here it states that a youth can be a hero and brings the poem back into a hopeful inflection. This is the only part in the entire poem where there is rhythm. It highlights the idea that children can be the heroes. Lastly, line 27 is by itself. Since the phrase man doesn’t “notice his mistake” until it is too late. This is the too-common arrogance an adult is equipped with once they have to acknowledge they were wrong.
The form of the poem does it make it very different, but also calls attention upon it and the subject. It helps get the point across and emphasize what needs to be stated. Flynn manages to create a strong case as to why children should be protected against certain knowledge. They should not have their bubble popped with the truth that Santa is not real or it’s impossible to fly. Kids should be able to have their childhood as long as they can and this poem manages to depict that with contrasting tones, metaphorical images, and a free-flow form.