Monologue of an Onion

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“Monologue for an onion” by Suji Kwock Kim

The poem “Monologue for an onion” by Suji Kwock Kim begins with the peeling of an onion that could very well describe her and her agony, but further reading reveals that the majority of the poem is directed at the person doing the peeling. The reader cannot help but sympathize with the peeled onion, whether the emotions stem from the hurt state of the onion or from the aggressive peeler. Clearly the poet’s attack of the peeler grabs the attention of the reader and elevates the emotional connection with the poet.
Kim uses the metaphor “peeling away my body layer by layer” (line 3) to describe the unveiling of the layers of an onion. Although the metaphor describes the body of an onion, it is much deeper than that. The metaphor is about people; it is about trying to dig deep into someone’s personality and exposing their vulnerability. Moreover, the deep search and digging referred to are of unhealthy nature. The person searching for the core of another has gone too far in this poem; too far to the extent of making the poet resent and dislike the seeker of the heart. This resentment is clear from the beginning of the poem where it starts with a negative tone, “I mean nothing, but this has not kept you from peeling” (lines 2-3), towards a person who has gone too far trying to achieve clarity and depths that are not realistically discoverable.

The negative tone prevails throughout the whole poem which makes the poem powerful and very interesting to read. Kim is describing many people in her poem, yet the poem suggests that she is directing her words towards one person; a person who did her wrong by hurting her while hurting himself as well. “Yellow peels, my stinging shreds. You are the one in pieces.” (lines 28-29) shows an almost destroyed person being interrogated by a fool who will never get enough and who will keep searching for something unattainable. Humans, unlike machines, will never be controlled...
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