Sharon Olds

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Daughters, A Mother’s Replacement
Sharon Olds explains “the oldest story we have on our planet (line 17)” in her poem 35/10, the story of replacement. Mother daughter replacement, when the daughter enters the stage of full bodily maturity as the mother’s days fade and she no longer has sharpened looks nor the ability to produce young. At this time, the mother is forced to hand over the women duties and believe in her heart that she has lead her daughter down the right path that has prepared her for this moment. Mothers have struggled with this sense of replacement since the beginning; it starts with the recognition of physical features coming and going which leads to the realization of the ability to be fertile and have mother skills, and ends with a mutual acceptance of both women. Physical changes are the easiest to recognize, especially when you are familiar with the subject like a mother is with her daughter. It is inevitable for a mother to age as her daughter does, and it is extremely obvious to the mom. Sharon explains this inevitability well in her quote “As my skin shows its dry pitting, she opens like a small pale flower on the tip of a cactus (9-10).” She knows that she is ageing, but she notices it more in her daughter. Sharon indicates that these physical sines of ages are difficult for her to deal with as she classifies herself as “the silver haired servant behind her (the daughter) (line 4).” The sole reality that holds Sharon’s sanity is the recognition that with every new physical deterioration of her body, her daughter’s is only getting stronger and more pure.

One of the most important skills passed down from mother to daughter are the parenting skills. These skills were being absorbed by the daughter all her life, and when the daughter gets to the point when her body is physically ready to produce, the mother feels that her time of teaching is done. Sharon notices her time of fertility is coming to an end, and her...
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