Women's Roles In 'Marks' By Linda Pastan

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American poet, Linda Pastan, in her poem “Marks” published in 1978 addresses the topic of women’s roles in the household and asserts that although mothers may be good at their household job, their desire to fulfill other careers is overpowering and necessary to thrive. Pastan supports her claim by using vivid imagery, such as describing the grades she gets from her life job, a repeating pattern in the sentence structure, when listing what each of her family members grades her as, and connotative diction, when describing her feelings about being targeted in such a hardening and impersonal way. The author’s overall purpose is to inform readers that women were and still are being stereotyped, so that they might think about how they treat
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This can be depicted as the author uses a candid tone to convey the lack of emotional comfort the mother feels around her family. The short, blunt lines fall flat with little emotion, which is depicted when the mother states, “My sons says I am average” (Pastan 883). The image that pops into my mind is a young boy that is almost scolding his mother, when in fact, it should be the other way around. In some cases, this is ironic,as a mother is usually the person scolding, not the other way around. In addition to this, the mother who is speaking in first person, blatantly states the situations that she is dealing with, such as “my husband gives me an A for last night’s supper” (Pastan 883). This type of writing make it seem as if the mother is a robot, and not treated like an actual person. Pastan’s utilization of informal diction emphasizes how her use of simple and straightforward vocabulary is similar to the viewpoint and tone of the speaker. Just as the family gives the mother her grades, with no consideration of her feelings, she plainly giving her audience facts, which can be seen as a lack of empathy. However, at the end of the poem, we see a spark in the mother's characterization after she exclaims, “Wait ‘till they learn I’m dropping out” (Pastan 883). The picture that appears in my mind in the end is a…show more content…
Because Pastan is known for writing stories and poems regarding family life, domesticity, motherhood, the female experience, aging, death, loss and the fear of loss, as well as the fragility of life and relationships, it is no surprise that this one including many of the previously mentioned topics. To name a few, motherhood, the female experience and relationships were the three most relevant topics I saw in the poem. These three topics are extremely important, because not only are they significant in this story, but in all families across the globe. I also noticed the historical importance of this poem, as back during the 1970’s, few people considered being a wife and mother a full-time job, and it is not uncommon for a woman who take on both of these roles to feel overworked and unappreciated. Interestingly, Marks was written in 1978, which took place during the March for the Equal Rights Amendment. As Feminism was on the rise, as women advocated for an equal representation in the workfield. It can be seen by Pastan’s writing, such as when she mention the typical responsibilities a mother takes care of, such as cooking and ironing, that she is addressing the lack of respect mothers’ and women's roles in the household were given during this time period. I believe that straightforward and plain tone can be seen a reflection of the plain
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