The United Fruit Company

The United Fruit Company

By Pablo Neruda

When the trumpet sounded, it was
all prepared on the earth,
the Jehovah parcelled out the earth
to Coca Cola, Inc., Anaconda,
Ford Motors, and other entities:
The Fruit Company, Inc.
reserved for itself the most succulent,
the central coast of my own land,
the delicate waist of America.
It rechristened its territories
as the ‘Banana Republics’
and over the sleeping dead,
over the restless heroes
who brought about the greatness, the liberty and the flags,
it established the comic opera:
abolished the independencies,
presented crowns of Caesar,
unsheathed envy, attracted
the dictatorship of the flies,
Trujillo flies, Tacho flies,
Carias flies, Martinez flies,
Ubico flies, damp flies
of modest blood and marmalade,
drunken flies who zoom
over the ordinary graves,
circus flies, wise flies
well trained in tyranny.

Among the blood-thirsty flies
the Fruit Company lands its ships,
taking off the coffee and the fruit;
the treasure of our submerged
territories flow as though
on plates into the ships.

Meanwhile Indians are falling
into the sugared chasms
of the harbours, wrapped
for burials in the mist of the dawn:
a body rolls, a thing
that has no name, a fallen cipher,
a cluster of the dead fruit
thrown down on the dump.

Summary of The United Fruit Company

  • Popularity of “The United Fruit Company”: Pablo Neruda, a great Spanish poet, and writer, wrote ‘The United Fruit Company’. It is a narrative poem about anti-imperialism or capitalism. First published in Spanish in 1950 and later translated into English, the poem became a swan song in the dictatorial regimes for the freedom-loving people. The poem speaks about different companies and the reason behind their establishment. It illustrates how these companies have changed their titles with time; however, their manners of operation are still the same even after years of their establishment. The speaker effectively portrayed the historical context of the multinational companies.
  • “The United Fruit Company” As a Representative of Reality: This thought-provoking piece describes how the arrival of the United Fruit Company alters the fabric of Latin America. The poem begins with a biblical tone where the poet says that God has given the authority to the imperialists to rule his state. He states how the arrival of Coca-Cola, Ford Motors, Anaconda, and other companies has robbed the delicacy, innocence, and sweetness of Latin America. He compares the United Fruit Company with flies and illustrates how such companies have overshadowed the great sacrifices of our people. He laments how these blood-thirsty dictators have taken the valuable resources of America at the expense of the poor people. They ruthlessly kill and oppress poor people for the sake of their gain. Toward the end of the poem, the speaker draws our attention to the sufferings of the people, arguing that the destructive and oppressive operations of the United Fruit Company cast a dark shadow on the people living in Latin America. In short, the poem compares capitalists to colonials, who aim to use a place and people for their benefits, while the workers stay poor.
  • Major Themes in “The United Fruit Company”: Corruption, imperialism, the quest for wealth, and land are the major themes underlined in this poem. Throughout the text, the speaker tries to explain how the innocent people of Latin America suffer when the companies fool them and destroy their land and lifestyles in the name of modernity and prosperity. He points out the oppression, cruelty, and injustice brought by these companies, presenting vivid pictures of how the owners of the companies tend to manipulate the government as well as the local workers to force their will on the locals for their petty interests of reaping more profits. Their greedy nature has stained the fabric of Latin America, making the life of laymen miserable and meaningless.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in “The United Fruit Company”

literary devices are very important elements of a literary text as they bring richness to the text and also make the reader understand the story. Pablo Neruda has also made this poem superb by using such devices. Here is the analysis of some literary devices used in this poem.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line. For example, the sound of /a/ in “that has no name, a fallen cipher” and the sound of /i/ in “It rechristened its territories”.
  2. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line in quick succession. For example, the sound of /d/ in “of modest blood and marmalade” and the sound of /z/ in “circus flies, wise flies.”
  3. Anaphora: It refers to the repetition of a word or expression in the first part of some verses. The word “Flies” is repeated in the first stanza of the poem to emphasize the point. For example,

“Trujillo flies, Tacho flies,
Carias flies, Martinez flies,
Ubico flies, damp flies
of modest blood and marmalade.”

  1. Allusion: Allusion is a belief and an indirect reference of a person, place, thing, or idea of a historical, cultural, political, or literary significance occurring in the text of the poem. Pablo has taken some words from Greek mythology such as “Trujillo flies, Tacho flies,/Carias flies, Martinez flies,” and “the Jehovah parcelled out the earth.”
  2. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break; instead, it rolls over to the next line. For example,

“a cluster of the dead fruit
thrown down on the dump.”

  1. Irony: Irony is a figure of speech in which words are used in such a way that their intended meaning is different from the actual meaning. The title of the poem is ironic as it hints at a company, but the poem is about the destruction the companies have brought to the people of Latin America.
  2. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. For example, “the Fruit Company lands its ships”, “Meanwhile Indians are falling” and “a cluster of the dead fruit/thrown down on the dump.”
  3. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between the objects that are different. The poet has used an extended metaphor of Indians in the last stanzas to show the misery of his people that happened during the early settlements.

“Meanwhile Indians are falling
into the sugared chasms
of the harbours, wrapped
for burials in the mist of the dawn.”

  1. Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from the literal meanings. “The United Fruit Company” symbolizes the unpleasant change in Latin America and “blood-thirsty flies” symbolize the supremacy of the company.

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “The United Fruit Company”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Free Verse: Free verse is a type of poetry that does not contain patterns of rhyme or meter. This is a free-verse poem with no strict rhyme or metrical pattern.
  2. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are four stanzas in this poem with each comprising a different number of verses.

Quotes to be Used

The lines stated below are suitable while talking about the acute misery of the people working under the cruel leadership.

“a body rolls, a thing
that has no name, a fallen cipher,
a cluster of the dead fruit
thrown down on the dump.”