Poem Analysis: The Youngest Daughter by Cathy Song

Pages: 3 (772 words) Published: October 11, 2013

Expectations of a Daughter

In the poem “The youngest Daughter” Cathy Song explores the responsibilities of being the youngest daughter in a particular culture. The narrator spends her life taking care of her ailing mother for many years and never had a life of her own. Her frustration is evident when she states “The sky has been dark for many years” (1), she also talks about “planning her escape” (48). Even though the daughter spends her life in servitude to her mother, there are poignant moments when the mother does reciprocate the love and care, so it becomes somewhat of a give and take situation, but still remains arduous for the daughter. In my culture, being a girl and especially an only girl is not to be taken lightly, the unwritten rule is; it is a daughter’s responsibility to care for her mother when she is not able to do so for herself. This poem bears a striking parallel to my own experience of taking care of my mother before and during her long illness.

The narrator tells us her skin “tingles with migraine” …. “especially in the evenings” (13) Migraine headaches are debilitating and are stress related, while I didn’t suffer from migraine headaches, I relate strongly to how the narrator feels as the stress of being responsible for an adult, while caring for my own family was at times overwhelming. There were days I wanted to curl up into a ball and not move because I was so exhausted, I felt like my entire body ached from being overexerted. What made it especially hard for me was the fact that my mother and I were geographically, worlds apart. She had no desire to live in America, and I could not always physically be with her at the times she most needed me to be there. I had to maintain daily contact with her care giver while working 14 hours per day to pay for the round the clock care she needed, her medical bills, and put my son through college. There was also the constant worry that she was not getting the quality care that was...
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