In “The Lady in the Pink Mustang” the poet challenges the readers with two contrasting imageries of a woman; the one is the normal woman in her Cadillac while the contrasting image is that of a woman driving her pink Mustang on highways during night. The poem appears to project the two confusing images of a woman during the day time and night. The use of the epithet “Lady” in the title gives the impression of respectability but the word has been used ironically to refer to prostitute, poor woman or a native. The woman’s status is therefore ambiguous and the association of pink Mustang with the woman identifies her class and cultural status in a commercial world where everything sells.
The readers are apt to feel confused in the contrasting ways the woman in this poem has been depicted. The lady described in the poem leads to contrasting lives during the day and night. She is a normal girl in her Cadillac in the day while in her pink Mustang she is a prostitute driving on highways in the night. In the poem the imagery of body recurs frequently as “moving in the dust” and “every time she is touched”. The reference to woman’s body could possibly be the metaphor for the derogatory ways women’s labor, especially the physical labor is represented. The contrast between day and night possibly highlights the two contrasting ways the women are represented in society.
Mustang is a car used predominantly by the working class. Its owner is a woman and she portrays the economic aspects of prostitution rather than its sexualized elements. The pink color of Mustang is indicative of its feminized representation. Therefore, the pink Mustang represents the socio-economic status of woman and serves to cheapen and feminize it. The literal Mustang is the romanticized wild horse roaming the plains. Contextually speaking, Lady is seen in relation to the stereotypical image of rugged individualism thereby presenting to readers, the contrasting images of woman as marginalized and mainstream.
The Lady in the Pink Mustang may or may not be a Native American metaphor but is nonetheless perceived as being subjected to otherness experienced by the Native women. Being on “the Road” possibly emphasizes the alienation, uprootedness and the otherness experienced by those that are not connected to place or community for being on “the Road” means belonging nowhere and being alone.
The descriptions of the Lady’s life on the road put her in the ambiguous position of in-between. The moment of transition for the woman evident in the opening line “The sun goes down for hours,” connotes the temporal location to be found in timelessness devoid of past and future. The woman travels in her pink Mustang and therefore is not at a fixed place nor is she at a defined time. She has no belongings and as such she doesn’t keep what may not have immediate use and won’t carry things she can’t use any more. These are the characteristics of immigrant laborers who need...