In the poem “Monologue for an Onion” by Suji Kwock Kim, the onion metaphor is the centerpiece of the poem. The onion represents the poet, and the person she addresses (the reader assumes) is her lover. The onion metaphor is used to convey the message to this anonymous lover that she is by nature heartless and that he should stop trying to unearth a hidden core. The author is trying to dissuade her lover from further fruitless digging which only seems to cause him distress. The speaker seems removed and emotionally detached from the situation that seems so agonizing to her partner. Her partner is illustrated as being obsessed with finding a core hidden beneath her “skins.” The poet is annoyed with his persistent searching, which sets the tone of the poem, and uses the onion metaphor to show how unmoved she is.
An onion has many layers, or skins. In the case of the poet, her outermost layer is the face she shows to the world. However, being an onion, the outer layer is the same as every layer, and there is no heart or core. The poet chose the onion to represent her self because she believes that she too lacks a core. Her lover is described as “peeling away [her] body, layer by layer” and the discarded skins are cast aside like “all the debris of pursuit.” In other words, he is stripping away what he perceives as her defenses, and discarding them like trash. She argues that what he perceives as her defenses are actually synonymous with the rest of her because she is the same throughout. She says this very effectively with her decree, “I am pure onion—pure onion of outside and in.” Her lover thinks he will uncover something vulnerable and revealing but to no avail. The poet seems to have previously warned him that all that meets the eye is all there is. She declares “I mean nothing” and explains that she should be taken at face value, “but this has not kept [him]” from searching. The lover wants something deeper than what the poet is offering...
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