Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Big Smoke: "'A Struggle between a Demon and a Gritty Dwarf”

[The Big Smoke reading group]  

In “A Struggle between a Demon and a Gritty Dwarf,” Matejka’s Johnson recalls his fight with Stanley Ketchel, a Polish middleweight boxer. Johnson toys with the lesser fighter, but, after being distracted, is caught with a hook that almost causes him to fall.

When he stood and resumed fighting, Johnson "hit / Ketchel so hard we both fell down." Johnson had knocked Ketchel's front teeth out, and the hit was so powerful that Johnson was fearful that he may have killed his opponent, which would have been especially troubling for the almost all-white audience.

How did you respond to the poem? Why?

16 comments:

Ricky wells said...

Jack Johnson is entertained by the smaller boxer, that it causes him to drop his guard for his opponent to strike him twice. Johnson is furious with the dwarf where he packs all hell into his punch where he is a demon.



Ricky Wells

Robert F said...

Even when you are clearly qualified to achieve, slacking off can still lead to failure. He was toying around and almost lost the fight. Another thing is Jack Johnson wanted to win, but he was scared to overdue it because it may have cost a man his life. Yes, that is bad but in a domanantly white crowd he knew if "The assassin" did not get up, he knew he was in big trouble.

Robert F.

Isaiah Person said...

Jack Johnson was playing with his opponent to increse the value of the fight and dropped his gaurd. his opponent knoked him to the ground and the crowd got excited until he got up and hit his opponent so hard they thought he died.

Anonymous said...

Lucas Reincke said..

I thought this was a very enrapturing story. I find boxing very interesting and even though this is not the focal point of where the story is going, it is always good to have interests with the material. I was very shocked at the end and was very worried for Johnson being in "enemy territory" being surrounded by a predominant white crowd who is very intensely watching the bout. It goes to show that how "black and white" this world is that this man who is a professional athlete has to worry about the crowd when a man is injured an possibly dead. I do not blame him for being frightened but at the same time he should not have to be. It would be ridiculous if he is attacked or ridiculed for the death of his opponent. He did not intentionally try to kill him, just incapacitate him with a blow.

Quentin Wilson said...

Johnson showed that all things should be taken seriously, because you never what will happen. Johnson need to understand that. Also the fight could have taken a turn for the worst considering how Johnson thought he killed the man. Johnson learned many lessons that day. Take all fights serious and to remember that you can't fight racism all the time.

Evan Townzen said...

This poems imagery had my heart racing the whole way through. Our fighter begins to get casual and got caught slipping, but the blow from the "middle weight" was not enough to keep him down. Then the fear of his time left him scared for his opponents life. Beautiful art and very suspenseful

Wole A said...

Johnson let his guard down because he was over confident. His response to when he got hit was to respond in rage which would have caused him problems.

NIcholas M. said...

It almost seems as if "The assassin " was the crowd favorite. So, the end result would not sit well with the white audience because Johnson was supposed to lose.

Xavier Robinson said...

It mentions how he was playing around in the fight and he got hit and could have lost the fight. He always seems to take his fights serious but in this poem he was trying to put on a show, and even though he beat the "assassin" he mentions that he was scared. Scared that he might have killed him when he said " he was waiting for a breath, any sign he was going to be a man again"
Xavier R.

Jeremiah Blackburn said...

After reading this poem, Jack Johnson reminded me of Muhammad Ali because he felt like there was now boxer in the world that could beat him. He still realizes the danger of being a black male as well. At the end when he knocks out Ketchel he feared that he had nearly killed him which could have put him in jail potentially.

Barry Ford said...

Jack didn't take the middleweight boxer serious. I liked this poem because it showed that Jack can be cocky.

Jeremy H said...

I believe this poem shows the power of ego. He was so big headed that he lost focus on the task at had. As a pre-med student I know how this feels because after doing well one a test or two there is always more to begin studying.

Jeremy H.

Deandre Howard said...

The fight was very interesting, indeed. Of course, the don't-judge-a-book-by-it's-cover axiom still holds up in this situation. Upon the audience being all white. it could have put some distraught due to the implications of Jack's opponent's life.

Overall, it seems he may have a lack of control over his emotions. At least, that was my impression.

Rodrick Robins said...

I responded to the poem with awe and entertainment. I honestly thought it was very interesting. I also related to the poem a lot. Sometimes you're in a lose-lose situation where even if you do your best and succeed, your success brings about your ruin.

J.Shaw said...

This poem is very interesting to me for the fact that Johnson hit his opponent so hard to the point that he had to question whether or not "the man would be a man again" (Matejka 51). Not to mention Johnson, a black male that struck a white man during this time period, is a bit quivering. Being in Johnson's shoes at this particular moment is an example of the vexing state us as African Americans can be in when entirely surrounded with white Americans. We sometimes get unsure on how to react and tend to overreact as shown with "A Struggle Between a Demon and a Gritty Dwarf".

Deonte Young said...

after reading this poem it shows how you shouldn't play with your opponent. and i think he realizes this after almost killing him