In her “Sapplings in the Storm” essay, Mary Pipher brings attention to the struggles, changes, and hardships young girls experience when they reach the age of adolescence. She uses similes, allusions, and metaphors to pull her reads into her reflections. “Just as… ships disappear…into the Bermuda Triangle… the selves of girls…crash and burn in a social and developmental Bermuda Triangle.” Pipher connects the suddenness of the girls’ changes to a mystery that most have heard of. Early on in her essay she wants her readers to realize the severity of the topic. Pipher includes metaphors and imagery to add reality to what these girls deal with; including, “girls who rushed to drink in experiences in enormous gulps sit quietly in the corner,” “described the wreckage,” and “their voices have gone underground.” Pipher inserts a story from the Shakespearean play, Hamlet, along with a description of the stereotypical fairy tale story, in order to show how adolescence manifests itself in many different ways. Figurative language in this writing makes these continually occurring situations real and present; not just an assumption.
Mary Pipher addresses the dramatic changes handled by adolescent girls. With tone, Pipher clearly relates how she feels about her topic. Words like “dramatic,” “chaos,” and “shattered” show the writer’s mood as serious, sad, and slightly dark. She uses heavy descriptions when describing how the girls feel and change. Her tone depicts the readiness of what the young girls deal with, and how it affects the people around them. Pipher’s tone in “Saplings in the Storm” is enough to make her readers think about what some adolescent girls might be hiding under the surface. Personally this topic about the problems surfacing in adolescent girls not only made sense to me, but also surprised me. I had a lot of different, heavy things going on in my life around the ages of twelve to fifteen, so the changes brought on by adolescence did not bother me as much as it seems to have bothered the girls in the “Saplings in a Storm” essay. I was facing problems much larger than anxiety, self-image, and confidence. I could and can easily see how adolescence has affected my friends and the people around me, but I don’t remember experiencing the same types of problems that the girls in the essay are. Even though I haven’t faced similar problems at the same time as these other girls, I would never venture to say that I have not faced them at all. Mary Pipher successfully portrays how reaching adolescence generally affects girls. Her tone in the writing along with the figurative language makes the changes more real to the reader. She delivers her thoughts and concerns affectively through her continual attitude about the subject. Even though adolescence did not affect me the way it does for others; after reading this essay I now know that adolescence is connected to the way girls act at a certain age.