While reading the poem The Gift by Murielle Minard for the first time, I felt angry at first. I was upset at the fact that she was not allowed to play with the doll. If she received the doll as a gift, why can’t she play with it? She was only allowed to hold it in her arms, “…not to disturb its perfection in any way” (Minard, 1984). In my mind, she is a seven year old girl and if she receives a toy as a gift, why can’t she play with it any way she wants? And then, once her mother felt the daughter had played with her doll for an appropriate amount of time, she would, “rewrap it carefully in tissue, put it back into its own long, gray box and place it high on the closet shelf safe from harm” (Minard, 1984). The daughter is not allowed to play with it how she wants or when she wants. While it was frustrating for me to just read about it, one can only imagine how maddening it is for a seven year old girl to be told not to play with her new doll.
So I sat back and thought about it strictly from a reader’s point of view. Perhaps the mother simply wanted her daughter’s doll to be preserved. Maybe she wanted her daughter to be able to cherish the doll through her adult life as well and thus, had to carefully monitor her daughter’s playtime with her gift. Frustrating, but possible.
So I re-read the poem, this time looking at it from a feminist point of view. And it still upset me. I realized that this girl is being taught that women are not to “do” anything. They are to sit around and look pretty. The daughter sits there, “transfixed by its loveliness and mindful of [her] mother’s wishes,” which are seemingly to train her to be and act just like this doll (Minard, 1984). Here is this girl, seven years old, already being taught that she is to look pretty without really having an opinion on anything.
There are two different ways, in my opinion, to interpret this piece. Firstly and most obviously, it is that the mother is training the daughter in how she ought to...
Cited: Minard, M. "The Gift." Women: Images and Realities, A Multicultural Anthology.
4th Ed. Amy Kesselman, Lily D. McNair, Nancy Schiedewind, and Suzanne Kelly. New
York: McGraw-Hill, 2008.
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