"The One Girl at The Boys Party" by Sharon Olds is about the personal journey of
the discovery of feminine sexuality in the life of an adolescent female. In this confusing
journey mathematics are used metaphorically to describe the girls new found sexuality.
The girl attempts to deny the emergence of her femininity though the impersonal use of
mathematics in order to intellectually repress her true sexual being.
The girl in this poem is young and with her youth comes a sense of innocence
however the poem demonstrates the sexual awakening the girl incurs. The girl's youth is
exemplified when the speaker states that she "took her girl to the party ... [and] sat her
down' (862). Here the speaker presents the girl as a child being chaperoned to the party
by her mother. The girl is also described as being "...smooth and sleek ... her body hard
and indivisible as a prime number." (862). This description points out the girl's youth but
also highlights her feminine sexuality. It would appear that the girl is unprepared for her
sexual awakening and as such is using mathematics to defer her attention from her
sexual thoughts, feelings, and desires. The speaker states that as the girl stands there " her
math scores unfold[ing] in the air around her." (862). This eludes to how the denial of her
sexuality is unfolding, it is as if she is loosing her ability to concentrate on the
mathematics that distract her from her true sexuality. Here it would seem that the girl
may be coming to terms with the inevitability of her female sexuality.
The poem exemplifies the difference between the thoughts of the boys and the
girl as well as demonstrating how her thoughts evolve from those of innocence to
thoughts that become dominated by sexuality. The speaker describes how the boys see
the girl as they emerge from the pool "... they will see her...