An Analysis of Annette Sanford's "Nobody Listens When I Talk"

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An Analysis of Annette Sanford’s “Nobody Listens When I Talk”

Annette Sanford’s “Nobody Listens When I Talk” depicts a story of how a sixteen-year-old girl named Marilyn spends her summer. Marilyn sits on a swing all summer long, reading books and reminiscing about significant events from her past and present, as she attempts to figure out who she is as a person. From her understanding of what others think of her, she is an introverted and ambivalent person who is indifferent to the outside world. She doesn’t speak much, though she is adamant that she could if she wanted, because she believes that no one would listen to her even if she did. So instead, Marilyn lives in her head, attempting to discover who she is through her limited interaction with others and from her thoughts about herself. At the end of the story, Marilyn casually gets up from her swing to realize that summer is over and that she is now seventeen. Even though she is physically older and has gained some insight into self-discovery, she ultimately remains in the same state of identity confusion. Sanford’s story reveals that achieving self-awareness is a life-long process that requires periods of conscious decision-making and a commitment to a set of beliefs to achieve a sense of self.

Marilyn is portrayed as an atypical girl going through adolescence. Because of her introversion and passivity, the people in her life try to impart to her who they believe she should be. For example, her mother believes her purpose in life is to be “an apprentice woman in training for three meals a day served on time and shiny kitchen linoleum. . . .” And even though her father believes her to be “a pretty girl” and her gorgeous friend thinks she “needs a lot of experience with different men”, Marilyn chooses to cope with these irrational ideas and beliefs by retreating to her swing. It is here where she can escape her physical environment and instead live in her thoughts. She not only...
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