Analysis Of The Song Of Song

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In her short story, “The Song of Songs,” Ellen Gilchrist explores the concepts of materialism and human relationships and their effects on a person’s sense of purpose. Barrett Clare, who was given up for adoption as a child, suffers from manic depression. She continually attempts to alleviate her depression in ways typically idealized in America such as owning a beautiful home and having a happy family. Intermittently in the story are glimpses of Barrett’s internal thoughts which reveal the extent of her depression as well as its presumed cause – the feelings of abandonment by her mother. Through the course of the story, Gilchrist juxtaposes materialism – a private jet, a Rolex watch, a mansion, marrying for money – with interjections of Barrett’s intensely depressed internal dialogue to show that materialism only worsens depression. In doing so, Gilchrist wants us to see that being abandoned by one’s mother can have devastating effects on one’s sense of purpose, a damage that cannot be alleviated through the pursuit of the American Dream. By providing the internal, melancholic thoughts of Barrett amidst a world of material extravagance, Gilchrist shows that materialism never relieves feelings of purposelessness. In the first paragraphs of the story, Gilchrist describes Barrett’s life using words such as “biggest whitest house,” “satin,” and “hand-embroidered slip” to show that Barrett lives in a world of material wealth; additionally, Gilchrist emphasizes that Barrett “had
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