“Gender equality is more than a goal in itself. It is a precondition for meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development and building good governance.” (Kofi Annan) In Paulette Jiles’s poem, “Paper Matches” and in Judith Ortiz Cofer’s poem, “The Changeling” the theme described is gender roles. In the two poems the women do not feel appreciated. These two poems are very similar in theme, content, and figurative language. However, the structures of the two poems are very different. Jiles and Cofer both use symbolism, dialogue, figurative language, and imagery as instruments to reflect the cruelty of the women during these times. In Paper Matches, Jiles uses the simile of a match to display the irritation and anger of the gender roles forced when she was a child. Matches are tiny, insignificant items that are sold in packages, and one is interchangeable from another. They have no use unless they’re lit; they're only good for one flame. These connotations roughly pare down what the author saw as woman's condition in society. It seemed to her that women were hardly more than servants and not allowed much individuality. Another facet of the match-comparison is that matches are passive. Someone strikes up a flame with it, but matches can't do anything on their own decision.
Jiles' anger is displayed by the final two lines, "We come bearing supper, / our heads on fire." This continues the match-metaphor, but also implies anger directly resulting from the servitude involved in bringing in supper. If someone's angry, they might be called "hot-headed,"--Jiles' women's heads are figuratively on fire, they're so incensed at their position. Something slightly ironic in the image is that the match's/women's usefulness starts at their heads. In the male-dominated society Jiles describes, women's heads--brains--wouldn't be very valued. That their heads are on fire in the end suggests that their anger at their position is borne out of the fact...
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