Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Internal Structure #2: The Victims by Sharon Olds p.1006

In this poem, the child of a couple divorced, re-tells their feelings once their father is left with nothing. "When Mother divorced you, we were glad." This sets the tone of a bitter child with deep seeded daddy issues. Systematically the speaker lists the crumbling of their fathers life, after the divorce. First, the family, "kicked you (the father) out" and "Then you were fired, and we grinned inside." This twisted enjoyment the child feel, amplify when they think of how bad their "ex-father's" life is now.

Although this poem seems like one massive block of poetry, it is marked by structure with the reducing of the father's life. Starting with the mother kicking him out, then his divorce from his family and finally his firing from work. The layers of this unknown characters life are being peeled away, as the poem progresses. "Now I pass the bums in doorways...and I wonder who took it from them in silence until they had given it all away and had nothing left but this." Summing up the disintegration of their father's life, by relating it to a bum's empty life, shows the true emotional anger and hurt the child still feels. With the beginning of the poem being in the past, it ends with the child seemingly in present day and safely without their father.

Sharon Olds on her autobiographical poetry:


Kasey said...

I blogged on this poem too. Except, I had a bit of a different view on the shift in the poem. I think that the end of the of poem is a contrasting view of the tone in the beginning. The speaker seems to feel regret for the way he/she treated his/her father, yet they cannot do anything about it. It is as if the speaker finally, as an adult, is able to realize that maybe the father wasn't as bad as he/she thought; it's a more adult, mature view, in the end.

Fig said...

After reading both posts, I agree with pieces of each. I think that Gaby's point about the structure being effective because it provides one layer at a time of the husband's life is a good one. I like the style of adding individial details together to form a larger whole. I agree with Kasey's point that the tone changes at the end, but I don't feel the regret that she does. I think the speaker is genuinely sad and frustrated that her father ended up being like this. The tone lightens but not towards regret.

Charlie said...

I think the ending represents an adult more mature narrator who has gone through life and now comes to an epiphany. It says "Now I" in the poem as to suggest a long lapse in time. Through his epiphany, the narrator realizes that his childhood reversal int he downfall of his father were unjustified. They, having been the victim, made their father the victim.

kerrym7 said...

I agree that the reader goes through an epiphany at the end of the poem. However, I do not think he/she regrets the way their father was kicked out. The father is compared to a "ship gone down with the lanterns lit", which shows that the father had everything going for him. Furthermore, the narrator wonders who "took it and took it from [the father and bums] in silence...until they had nothing left but this." The fact that the father is referred to as "nothing but this" shows the bitterness the narrator still possess.