Saturday at the Canal, author Gary Sotto tells the story of two teenage kids who are unhappy with their lives. They were expecting their lives to be different even though they were only seventeen. The author makes sure we realize just how miserable they are. He uses descriptive writing to help us understand how they feel. Sotto is also careful not to be too specific about certain ideas in order to help the reader create their own interpretation of this poem.
Saturday at the Canal is not a cut ND dry poem where you know exactly what It is about, it is a poem that lets us use our Imagination. The poem starts out with a heart-wrenching statement “I was hoping to be happy by seventeen”. Within the first eight words of this poem, we the readers are already drawn in. We want to know why a seventeen year old is not happy at such an important point in his life. We begin to think of possible situations where a seventeen year old wouldn’t be happy with life; bullying, heart break, or maybe even death.
We have to continue to read In order to understand why this teenager Is having such a art time. Sotto peaks everyone’s curiosity by Implying that this teenager has never been happy In his entire life. He relies on our nosiness to ensure that we will continue to read. The character in this poem goes on to tell us reasons for his unhappiness by beginning with school. They talk about how school was “a sharp checkmate in the roll book” implying that school was more like a chore. Once they checked one thing off the list, another one was right there to follow.
Sotto helps us see the type of teenager the character Is. He brings us back Into a school hallway where we hear the tuba sound for the sports pep rally. Once everyone leaves for the rally, the only people left in the hallway are the burnouts and loners. The ones with “poor grades” and “unwashed hair”, the ones similar to our character. It is Saturday now and the character and his friend decide to go watch the water at the canal. They don’t talk much but they do walk around “hurling large rocks at the dusty ground. ” Our mall character tells us that they both felt awful about a postcard from San Francisco.
It was their dream to get there by any means necessary, to “hitchhike under the last migrating birds” was even an option for them. This line shows how desperate they were to move forward with their lives. For these friends, the most fun they have on a Saturday is walking by a canal throwing rocks. They wanted to move to the big city where there were big opportunities. Moving to San Francisco for these two would mean they could escape their hum- drum lives. They wanted be able to learn guitar from people who knew more than three chords.
They wanted to become the rock stars they have always dreamed of. They were good kids because they didn’t want to become the typical rock stars that sit around smoking and drinking. They Just wanted to be rock stars that get up on stage with their long hair and rock out with their guitars. After they are done fantasizing, reality sets back in. They realize they are still stuck in this little Podunk town of theirs. They dream about the idea of leaving but then the water “white-tipped but dark underneath, racing out of town. This line shows owe much they new the water in the canal and how they wish they could race out of town as easily as it does. Throughout the poem you get the feeling, that ever since the boys were young they wanted to become rock stars. Unfortunately, something was always holding them back from pursuing their dreams. They originally hoped that by seventeen they would be in San Francisco rocking out but when they got to that age they slowly started to realize they were never going to fulfill that dream. Now they Just go back to the canal and watch, with new and Jealously, as the water runs out of town.