Analysis "Hanging Fire" & "Barbie Doll"

Topics: Audre Lorde Project, Girl, Audre Lorde Pages: 8 (2721 words) Published: January 2, 2012
Thesis Statement & Introduction
An analysis of the literary elements imagery, symbolism, and tone/mood in “Barbie Doll”, by Marge Piercy and, “Hanging Fire” by Audre Lorde reveals each character and their struggle with their identity in society.

Summary of “Barbie Doll”
In the poem “Barbie Doll” by Marge Piercy, we read about a young girl who has self image problems. Due to the expectations of society, she is not happy with her physical appearance. She had many good qualities but is unable to see these for herself. Instead she only sees is a “a great big nose and fat legs”(Piercy,1936). In order to conform to society’s idea of beauty, the young girl was “advised to play coy, exhorted to come on hearty, exercise, diet, smile and wheedle.”(Piercy, 1936) The pressures became too much for her to handle. She could no longer live this way so she “cut off her nose and her legs/and offered them up.”(Piercy, 1936) The author states that finally, the girl has achieved acceptance, but not on the qualities of her character or her being; rather, through the unwilling compromise to culture.

Summary of “Hanging Fire”
The poem “Hanging Fire”, by Audre Lorde is about the hardships of a teenager who is possibly growing up during the tense civil rights movement era, and is afraid for her life. She is scared about growing up and has many insecurities. There are many things she wants to do such as, learn to dance & be on the math team. The young girl has self confidence problems due to her appearance. For example she states, “my skin has betrayed me,” ( Lorde, 1978) meaning there are many things she feels she cannot do because her skin is not white. She also asks, “how come my knees are always so ashy?” (Lorde, 1978) She continues to refer to her mother throughout the poem as being in the bedroom with the door closed. Without her mothers’ guidance, she is struggling in society because she has no guidance. Lorde argues that anyone enduring these forces would feel the loneliness and loss of identity that the young girl had felt.

Literary Element-Imagery in “Barbie Doll”
Imagery is used in “Barbie Doll” in several areas of the poem. Piercy uses lots of imagery to describe the struggles the girl experiences during her teenage years and the effects that can happen. In the first stanza, we see the beginning of an ideal image being stained in the girls mind. She was “presented dolls that did pee-pee and miniature GE ovens and irons and wee lipsticks the color of cherry candy”.(Piercy, 1936) By being presented these gifts the girls parents have already instilled a visualization of what the perfect woman is like and the girl is already learning her place in society. Their place was in the kitchen and taking care of the kids. Piercy has painted an image to the reader of a little girl playing with toy stoves and irons and wearing red lipstick to make herself pretty. Piercy writes, “In the casket displayed on satin she lay with the undertaker's cosmetics painted on, a turned-up putty nose, dressed in a pink and white nightie.”(Piercy, 1936) The next line reads, “Doesn’t she look pretty?” (Piercy, 1936) The derisive imagery criticizes gender discrimination of the modern society. The character has struggled to feel pretty until the pressure of society has became too much for her and in response to this has cut off her nose & legs.

Literary Element- Imagery in “Hanging Fire”
The imagery of the mother plays a big part in the poem “Hanging Fire” by Audre Lorde. This line is repeated all throughout the poem, "and momma's in the bedroom with the door closed." (Lorde, 1978) I think it is representative of the fact that this speaker has to grow up alone without the guidance of her mother. Another way to look at the imagery of the locked up mother is that her mother just wasn't there in the first place. Her mother could have been an absent figure in her life and that is a scary thing (to grow up without the guidance of...
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