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Gluck uses strong diction to create vivid images in order to convey the hatred and helplessness that is the core of the character.
Although the diction is relatively colloquial, there are some prominent words, which are utilized to exhibit the woman’s emotions. The first two lines of the poem are bursting with powerful lexis, “It is not the moon, I tell you. / It is these flowers…” (1-2). The woman hates men, and uses influential words to aid in her belief. The word moon suggests power. The subject uses moon to indicate that men have power over women. This is the initiation of her argument, that men control woman, and that is the cause of her hatred. The word flower implies innocence, specifically, the desire for love and purity. The flower is the target for all women, including her, however, the probability of obtaining said goal, is dubious.
The persona furthers her contention against men when she declares that, “She hates sex” (5). Sex contains a binary meaning. Sex can either mean that she hates men, which has already been established, or sex may mean intercourse. It is proven later in the poem, that the hatred of sex includes both aspects. In discussing the “paralyzing body,” it is in reference to a man’s body against her body. The thought of a male paralyzing her body, disgusts her. The poem concludes by mutating the tone of from defensive and firm to dreamy with a tinge of hope. When the woman says, “How can I be content / when there is still / that odor in the world?” (22-24), she is revealing the first sense of hope. Odor insinuates the desire for the flower. The odor is yearning for love, respect, and equality.
Abhorrence and vulnerability are omnipresent. Although the diction represents the fear within the individual, imagery is also used in order to express the loathing and powerlessness of the woman. The subject believes that women, as a species, are unable to continue to grow, because each time that they evolve, men attempt to place them in the past, where women have no rights and no respect. This idea is proven in the narrator’s words, “I hear the question and pursuing answer / fused in one sound / that mounts and mounts and then / is split into the old selves” (13-16). This quote implies that woman, as a sex, develop, but in the end returns to the old “1950’s” idea of women. They become objects, which are present to fulfill the needs of men.
When the subject says, “We were made fools of,” she is saying that men fooled women into thinking that they could progress to be equal to men. The true hopelessness lies in the image of “the scent of mock orange / drifting through the window” (19-20). Although the woman continually bashes men, she does not give up on them. She keeps a sliver a hope that perhaps, the possibility of achieving the flower is still out there.
She leaves herself delusional. She recognizes that men are inherently bad toward women, yet she holds hope tightly in her hand in fear that if she gives up on hope, she will be forced to face the truth that she is a weaker vessel. The hatred and debility are brought on by her fear. She is afraid of acknowledging her frailty; therefore, she creates an emotional wall. She demonizes men, in order to keep the pain and reality of her true self from entering.