Sharon Olds' The Possessive Essay

1396 words - 6 pages

The Possessive

Teenage rebellion is typically portrayed in stories, films, and other genres as a testosterone-based phenomenon. There is an overplayed need for one to acknowledge a boy’s rebellion against his father, his life direction, the “system,” in an effort to become a man, or rather an adult. However, rarely is the female addressed in such a scenario. What happens when little girls grow up? Do they rebel? Do they, in a sudden overpowering rush of estrogen, deny what has been taught to them from birth and shed their former youthful façades? Do they turn on their mothers? In Sharon Olds’ poem, “The Possessive,” the reader is finally introduced to the female version of the popular coming-of-age theme as a simple haircut becomes a symbol for the growing breach between mother and daughter through the use of striking images and specific word choice.

Olds begins the correlation of the daughter’s haircut and the idea of war early on in the poem. The reader is first exposed to the comparison in the line, “that girl with the hair wispy as a frayed bellpull/ has been to the barber, that knife grinder/ and has had the edge of her hair sharpened.” Olds immediately conjures up a frightful image of a barber viciously attacking her little girl’s hair. The image is enforced with the words Olds has placed carefully within the line. Instead of cutting her daughter’s hair, the barber sharpens it like one would a weapon. This haircut is the daughter’s first weapon in the war between mother and daughter. The haircut will be the first detachment of the daughter from her youth, the former “wispy” haired girl has in essence been murdered by the barber. To further emphasize this horrible image, Olds sneaks in a tactfully placed word next to the word “barber.” Olds gives him a follow-up description, “knife grinder.” This phrase is not particularly pleasant and by combining it with an already wicked sounding situation such as “sharpening” one’s hair, the unpleasant feeling the vision produces becomes undeniable. From here the tone of unease and apprehension often felt before a great battle is set. This is not a haircut. It is a preparation for war.

The next image Olds puts into play is that of the vision of her daughter reborn as the enemy. Olds describes the daughter’s hair by saying, “each strand now cuts/ both ways. The blade of new bangs hangs over her red-brown eyes/ like carbon steel.” This is not a typical description of hair. Olds specifically compares the young girl’s hair to a freshly sharpened weapon. With words such as “cuts,” “blade,” and “carbon steel,” Olds builds up an image of a lethal weapon such as a knife or perhaps sword, weapons both clearly used for battle. Olds further describes the girl’s hair by acknowledging that “all the little/ spliced ropes are sliced.” The line break in the poem which leaves the phrase “all the little” alone to be followed up by second line describing...

Find Another Essay On Sharon Olds' The Possessive

Comparison Essay written to compare the two poems "Persimmons" and "I Go Back to 1937"

758 words - 3 pages IRONY AND SYMBOLISMThe collision of two worlds and cultures coming together creates turmoil and confusion for many. With an autobiographical nature, that is the feeling a reader gets when encountering the poems "Persimmons" by Li-Young Lee and "I Go Back to May 1937" by Sharon Olds. "Persimmons" is a story of two cultures coming together in the life of one person. Lee came from a Chinese heritage and grew up in Indonesia and later the United

Sharon Olds Family Life and her History

1828 words - 8 pages Whether it is consciously or subconsciously, who we are as adults is very much determined (or influenced) by the experiences that we live through during childhood. These experiences and relationships that we have at such a young age can shape who we are going to be for the rest of our lives. Sharon Olds is a great poet who dives very deeply into her own memories, particularly ones of her childhood, to figure out what they actually mean to her

Rite of Passage by Sharon Olds

2085 words - 8 pages Rite of Passage by Sharon Olds Who is the birthday party a rite of passage for, the birthday boy or his mother? In the poem, "Rite of Passage," by Sharon Olds, the speaker, who is a mother, goes into detail about her son's birthday party celebration. Let us first begin by analyzing

"Sex Without Love:"by Sharon Olds

818 words - 3 pages Sharon Olds was born in 1942 in San Francisco. After graduating from Stanford she moved east to earn a Ph.D. in English from Columbia University. Olds describes the completion of her doctorate as a transitional moment in her life: standing on the steps of the library at Columbia University, she vowed to become a poet, even if it meant giving up everything she had learned. The vow she made--to write her own poetry, no matter how bad it might be

Sharon Olds and Confessional Poetry

1664 words - 7 pages in the late 1950s-early 1960s with writers such as Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton. The subject matter focused on extremely intimate details of the writers' lives and introduced the pronoun "I" to poetry.One of the most prominent examples of a confessional poet is Sharon Olds, however more modern her work may be. Much like predecessor Sylvia Plath, Sharon Olds' poetry is fueled by a love-hate struggle towards her father and her other

his stillness

1142 words - 5 pages The poem His stillness by Sharon Olds gave her a definite understanding of the man that she called “father.” Olds grew up in an abusive family home because her dad was always known as an alcoholic. Because of her dad’s habit, created hard living environments for her and she wished that her parents never got married. Whenever liquor was in her dad’s system, he was unemotional making life for Olds hard. She never described the things that he did

Because I Am Good

935 words - 4 pages No matter how bad the situations seem they all happen for a reason. Sharon Olds had to realize this through her own pain and suffering. She portrays herself as the speaker who goes back to May of 1937, and sees her parents. In “I Go Back to May 1937” she tells a story of when her parents were still just dating. They were just about to graduate and get married. Instead of feeling joyful or smiling at the sight of them she had a completely

His Stillness

1399 words - 6 pages The poem “His Stillness” by Sharon Olds is about Olds’ encounter with an abusive who was dying from cancer. Olds’ grew up in an abusive family home; her dad was always known as an alcoholic. Olds’ dad being an alcoholic created a hard living environments for her; therefore she wished that her parents never got married. Whenever liquor was in her dad’s system, he was unemotional making life for Olds hard. She never describes the things that he

Confusing Sexuality with Love in Sharon Olds’ “Sex Without Love”

1079 words - 4 pages Sharon Olds’ “Sex Without Love” is one of her many published poems. “Sex Without Love” was first published in 1984 through a collection of poems in her second book The Dead and the Living. Since then, even educational textbooks, all across the nation have featured Olds’ poems for student analysis. Reported in an essay, Literary Critic Ann D. Garbett states, Olds was born in San Francisco, California on November 19, 1942. Olds grew up in an

thematic essay on identity

928 words - 4 pages Thematic Essay on Identity      There are many aspects of identity in the poem “Sex without Love,” by Sharon Olds. I can relate my own thoughts to how the author views the subject that she talks about in this poem. There has been a situation in my own life where I was thinking to myself, just as the author was, “How do they do it, the ones who make love without love?” (Olds 740). Having been raised as a well-rounded and

Elements of Love

1178 words - 5 pages often focused upon. Olds work represents a strong sense of symbolism that further expands the meaning of the poem. The poem "Last Night" by Sharon Olds centers around love, the theme throughout remains the same; sex as a physical interaction that is physically and literally empty without both elements; emotion and love. Olds keeps the theme consistent throughout her work with clever diction, descriptive imagery, and tone allowing the reader to

Similar Essays

"The Race" By Sharon Olds Acg Parnell Poetry Essay

680 words - 3 pages The Race by Sharon Olds, illustrates the poet’s perspective of the limited time that all living beings have. The excited and passionate tone of the speaker, reflects her determination to see her father one last time before he dies. The poet juxtaposes two different perspectives to show how love can defiantly rise above anything, even hate. In the two stanzas of the poem, the speaker describes her intense desire to get on the plane as well as

This Essay Is About The Metaphorical Use Of Mathmatics In "The One Girl At The Boys Party" By Sharon Olds

547 words - 2 pages The Emergence of Femininity in "The One Girl at The Boys Party" by Sharon Olds."The One Girl at The Boys Party" by Sharon Olds is about the personal journey ofthe discovery of feminine sexuality in the life of an adolescent female. In this confusingjourney mathematics are used metaphorically to describe the girls new found sexuality.The girl attempts to deny the emergence of her femininity though the impersonal use ofmathematics in order to

The Use Of Metaphor, Diction, And Symbol In Sharon Olds' The One Girl At The Boys Party

611 words - 2 pages In a poem of reminiscent adolescence, Sharon Olds defines a young girl who has the capacity to judge adolescent emotion with the benefit of time, for she is now a mother herself. This definitive view of adolescent values and thought is mingled with the mystery of symbolic mathematics, which represents a maturity of this thought and a colorful insight into the development of a young girl as she becomes a woman. This poem also accentuates the

Comparative Analysis Paper: "The Ferryer" By Sharon Olds, "A Supermarket In California" By Allen Ginsberg And "The Junior High School Band Concert" By David Wagoner

942 words - 4 pages Comparative Analysis Paper PAGE 4 Comparative Analysis PaperHeather PattenLIT/120Business LiteratureUniversity of PhoenixDr. Kimberly LockwoodMarch 19, 2007IntroductionThis paper will analyze three poems. The poems chosen for this paper are "The Ferryer", Sharon Olds, "A Supermarket in California", by Allen Ginsberg, and "The Junior High School Band Concert", by David Wagoner. The analysis will discuss poetic techniques used by the poets. This