Commencing this assignment an attempt at a detailed analysis of Karen Press’s poem Glimpses of Women in Overalls will be made. Following such an analysis I shall articulate how the poem raises comparable concerns with that of Mrs Plum written by Es’kia Mphahlele. I have selected this particular story due to the face that it I believe both works communicative similar themes, therefore I shall explore the comparison below.
In order to provide a detailed analysis of the poem Glimpses of Women in Overalls it is vital to first establish the context in which it is written. Karen Press was born during the Apartheid era in South African and it can be said that she was therefore much influence by what she witnessed first-hand. To begin one should first observe the title of the poem and note the usage of the word “Women” – meaning more than one woman. Therefore the word choice expresses an observation of not only one, but numerous women throughout the poem.
The first stanza of the poem titled “live-in” begs the question live in what? Within the context of Apartheid answers such as fear or perhaps oppression come to mind. In accordance with the first stanza, within lines three and four there is both a literal and figurative meaning of the following quote “the taste of your own burnt tongue immediately going cold” (Chapmen, 2002: 446). The literal meaning is of a woman burning her tongue on hot food, but the more interesting is the figurative meaning that the burnt tongue may refer to harsh words she wishes to express. With regard to any further meaning the sentence may hold the word “cold” in line four may mean to remember ones place and bite back on the harsh words one wishes to express. The “Coagulation of fat” may denote an unpleasant taste not speaking one’s mind leaves in the mouth. In summation of the first stanza “live-in” can be interpreted as the obstacles a woman of colour faces in South Africa under the Apartheid regime.
The following glimpse is of a woman “off duty”. This setting presumably takes place within the servant’s quarters of her employer’s home as accustom during the Apartheid era. Considering lines ten and eleven of the third stanza “like children, fearing any moment the door bursting open” (Chapman, 2002: 446) it can be assumed that the word “children” may mean young or innocent within this context. The word “fearing” could be understood as being freighted of whom may burst through the door. The following three lines “why did you, where is my, who said you” are all a line of questioning, as if being interrogated. It is possible to deduce from this stanza that the woman “off duty” is seamlessly attacked by an antagonistic line of questioning initiated by someone white presumably.
The fourth stanza is particularly thought-provoking as it states that the next woman to be seen is “one of the family”. The word “shadow” has numerous connotations such as: black, darkness or unnoticed and only seen when needed...