Looking Beyond the House
Desperate loss and hopelessness fill so many homes. It is all too common to hear about a father walking out the door, a mother broken and defeated, and the children suffering through it all in fear and abandonment. Feelings such as these are found in Jim Stevens' poem "Schizophrenia." The poem shows the conflicts that exist within the house. However, the crisis that the family is experiencing is not expressed directly, but indirectly, through the house. By personifying the house in every aspect, "Schizophrenia" reveals the family's relationships, or lack there of.
The poem is entitled, "Schizophrenia," for what I believe are two reasons. The first is that the word "Schizophrenia" means "varying degrees of emotional or behavioral disturbances within one's mind (OED/Perez, 4)." Obviously, the house is full of emotional and behavioral disturbances. The second reason, is that Schizophrenia is a disease; it is incurable. The house is stricken with the disease of the family's conflicts, and will never be fully cured. It will always be marked by abuse.
I sense that the speaker is a male. I get this feeling from the way he hides his pain. Concealing your feelings is often considered the masculine thing to do, and the speaker does this throughout the entire poem. He is writing about a past experience in his childhood. I sense that the poem comes from an outside perspective, yet not too far out. The speaker is not the one doing the fighting, but, perhaps he is watching itliving itas the child of two disputing parents. The stanza "certain doors were locked at night, feet stood for hours outside them . . . " indicates to me that the speaker was a child when this took place. He watched as his father stood outside the locked bedroom door, shouting to be let in. He watched as the dishes piled up in the sink and his mother was too occupied with the fights to clean them. These are the images that the poem puts into my...
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