The poem is written by the American poet Jack Prelutsky. He was born on September 8, 1940, in Brooklyn, New York. He grew up in a working-class neighborhood comprising of Jewish, Irish & Italian families. In 2006 he was named the first Children’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation. This poem was inspired by his younger brother.
The first stanza has a rhyme scheme of aa/aa/aa/bb. The second stanza has a rhyme scheme of aa/bb/cc. The poem is a narrative one as it tells a story of human interest. It is a short, melodic & contemplative poem.
As Soon as Fred Gets Out of Bed Analysis
Jack Prelutsky’s “As soon as Fred gets out of bed” is a witty & humorous poem about a little boy who curiously wears his underwear over his head. The poem explores the enigmatic world of children entwined with fantasy & humor. Here we find a small boy named Fred who loves to wear the underwear on his head. This may be seen as the act of defiance of the rules laid out by the adults. Children are free of inhibitions and have their own unique take on life. The world of the children is free of responsibilities & binding chains. A child’s mind is always ready to explore the vast realm of possibilities. The childhood is deemed to be the golden age of life. Childhood is also the iconic symbol of “absolute purity.” Initially, it might seem that the poem is written for humor but upon further observation, it becomes an extended metaphor for a child celebrating his freedom. Freedom takes the cardinal stage in life irrespective of the adults or children. It is an ideal both upheld & cherished for a lifetime. Children provide exemplary instances of beguiling innocence.
The narrator decides to take the reader on a sublime journey into the mesmerizing world of childhood. It is said that the author wrote this poem about his little brother who, as a child, used to run around with the underwear over his head. The concept of freedom and independence is overwhelmingly spread in the young mind of Fred. Children are known for honing an indomitable spirit. A child feels no bounds to realizing his/her dreams & remains invincible both in his mind & spirit. In many ways, children impart wisdom for the adults to acknowledge & follow. The reader finds that Fred refuses to take off his underwear from his head exhibiting the same characteristics as other children. He is a bit defiant & stubborn but at the same time exudes an endearing aura of playfulness. These characteristics are usually apparent in all the children his age. This further implies a subtle rebellion on Fred’s side. It may be interpreted as the first act of defiance against the world in general. Since their inception children share a deep fondness towards their parent. This suggests just how close Fred is with his mother. A mother plays a crucial role in shaping the child’s demeanor. His mother tenderly tries to correct him, but he will not have it otherwise.
The poem carries the fancy of childhood dreams. A delicate & yet tender interrelationship is woven between the mother & her son. Fred’s mother represents the unbending, rigid society as she tries to correct him by saying “a head’s no place for underwear.” This act on the mother’s part represents how the parent acts on behalf of the society to curb the dreams & aspirations of children as they grow up. The mother is the symbolism of “the cage” trying to incarcerate her child’s passion for life. Fred, on the other hand, symbolizes “the free bird.” This implies the in the persistence of freedom as always trying to break free from the shackles of society. Like a bird, he is ready to spread his wings & fly. Thus, his spirit remains unvanquished & unmarred by the filth of the world. Fred’s unwillingness to comply with his mother’s wishes clearly illustrates his upholding of “individuality.”
The poem in a way depicts the rebellious & unruly stage that children go through at some point in their lives & the failure of the parents to understand them. It is also a reflection on how the adults have already aligned themselves in accordance to the dictates of the society. Fred provides a breath of fresh air in his defiance of following the footsteps of his parents. The poem depicts a sharp contrast between the world of children & adults. It draws a parallel to the “night & day.” In many ways Fred inspires the reader to cling to his/her hopes. It also signals the dormant inner child in every person to wake up & seize the day. Children want to be the center of attraction & make themselves noticed by doing the wrong things. The underwear stunt is his way to achieve just that. He then goes on to remove it from his head & places it on his toe; contemplating something new for the next day. The poem ends on a frolicsome note. It manages to capture the reader’s heart &evokes their nostalgic memories of childhood.
As Soon as Fred Gets Out of Bed Theme/Central Idea
The underlying theme of the poem deals with the assertion of freedom from the restrictions of society & the world. The poet through his poem wants the reader to prioritize his own values rather than giving into the vague opinions of the society. Moreover, he teaches us to believe in ourselves & have the courage to follow what we deem to be true in our hearts. Fred provides a perfect example of the preservation of one’s individuality. Children signify “purity” & they are free of inhibitions. Thus, Fred is not afraid of rebelling against his mother’s wishes. The act of putting the underwear on his head illustrates puerile frolicking. But on a more deeper & figurative level, it implies the dismissal of the adverse influence of the society. Fred is a staunch believer in his ideas.
The reader can easily relate to the way Fred’s mother tries to condition him into aligning with “the way of the world.” In these lines “Don’t put it there, a head’s no place for underwear” we find the mother exerting a subtle hegemony on the child. As she tries to correct him & makes him comprehend her point of view. Despite the mother’s insistence, the child’s defiance to listen to her suggests the courage to follow his own will. It is apparent to the reader that Fred values his freedom & individuality. The reader is compelled to question himself about his stance in life. There is a powerful message inherent in the poem. The narrator through Fred provokes the “inner child” lying dormant inside everyone to rebel. He teaches us to embrace our individuality & to have a high regard for our opinions. The reader finds a subtle note of humor accompanied with mischief. The reader finds himself relishing in the memories of childhood.
The poem has an overall impish tone to it. In the end, we sense an air of resignation on the mother’s side as she wishes him goodnight. This implies the victory of self-preservation against the norms of the world. The poem has a jovial setting. Upon further contemplation, we find the uplifting of the idea of freedom. It should be a chief concern to uphold our freedom in life. The poet encourages the reader to think outside of the box. He further encourages the reader to find the courage to follow his/her passion in life. If we stay true to ourselves & our ideas the world will eventually surrender like Fred’s mother. The poem ends on a mischievous note as the reader finds the child contemplating his motives for the next day. It suggests the subsistence of the infinite realm of possibilities. These lines imply that we should free our minds from any sort of inhibitions & doubts. And tells us how we can truly find our purpose in life if we earnestly search for it & eventually fulfill our goals. The poem leaves a trace of hope & evokes contentment. Thus, making the reader believe in the magic of life & the realization of the infinite possibilities.