Daddy Good Country People and Shiloh
Sylvia Plath’s “Daddy”, Flannary O’Connor’s “Good Country People”, and Bobbie Ann Mason’s “Shiloh” all have something in common. In each, the relationship between a parent and child is discussed. It is left up to the reader to decide the nature of the relationship.
Although what stands out in Sylvia Plath’s poem "Daddy" is the Nazi imagery, it is interesting to note that the father is not called a Nazi in the first half of the poem. In the first stanza he is a "black shoe / In which [she has] lived like a foot" (2-3) which is certainly a stifling image but not yet a clear reference to the father's evil nature. Next he is "Marble heavy, a bag full of God" and a "Ghastly statue" (8-9), images which reveal the daughter's struggle to cope with his death but do not reflect any bad intent on the part of the father. From line 15 to the midway point of "Daddy," Plath begins to use Nazi imagery, but she still does not attack the father. Instead, the poem focuses on the daughter's frustrating attempt to connect with her dead father through his native language, German. In the second half of "Daddy," it is difficult at first to pinpoint where Plath starts to include thoughts of her husband. The speaker of the poem doesn’t make specific reference of a marriage until line 67, there is evidence before that which suggests that the speaker had found a replacement for her father. The language of lines 48 to 50, "Every woman adores a Fascist, / The boot in the face, the brute / Brute heart of a brute like you," connotes an abusive relationship between husband and wife, not parent and child. Likewise, the phrase "the black man who / Bit my pretty red heart in two" (55-56) is much more appropriate for a scorned lover than a daughter. In line 72 the speaker begins to speak of a vampire, symbolizing her husband who "drank my blood for a year/Seven years, if you want to know.” It is with the poem's climax, the killing of the vampire, that Plath finally separates the figures of father and husband. The daughter avenges the injury to her "pretty red heart" by stabbing the vampire's "fat black heart" (56, 76). By analyzing "Daddy" in terms of the vampire metaphor we see how the poem attacks the speaker's husband on a symbolic level while condemning her father on a literal level.
The character of Joy/Hulga in Flannary O’Connor’s “Good Country People” is generally very negative and pessimistic in outlook. She seems to feel different from other people, and even inferior to them, because of her leg. Her pursuit of a Ph.D. in philosophy was possibly an attempt to compensate for and counteract those feelings. She...