Marge Piercy Essay Research Paper Young versus

Marge Piercy Essay, Research Paper

Young versus old. Death versus eternal life. The positive effects of society?s

pressure versus the negative. Marge Piercy?s ?Barbie Doll? and Dick

Schneider?s ?Youth?s Progress? are a study in the themes mentioned

above. There are many obvious similarities in the chronological structure and

irony of the two works. However, the reader will find that there are more

thought-provoking contrasts than initially meet the eye. Not surprisingly, the

poems follow the natural course of chronological time: beginning to end, young

to old. Both poems unfold with birth, continue through the ?growing up?

years, but do not surpass adulthood. The separation of stanzas in both works

indicates a new stage of life, though Piercy leaves the reader to guess the

actual age of the ?girlchild? in ?Barbie Doll.? The reader will note

that a major theme of both poems is the long-term effect of outside pressure on

the subjects from birth. Piercy employs the stylistic device of irony throughout

the entirety of her poem. It required the ?magic? of puberty for a child to

point out the negative aspects of a physical body. A healthy, intelligent and

strong woman is compelled by society to bustle ?to and fro apologizing,?

apologizing for failing to mirror the image of the Barbie-like woman the world

seems to want. Though she attempts to defy these expectations by cutting off her

?great big nose? and ?fat legs,? in her death the woman is displayed in

her casket, cosmetics painted on and a beautiful turned-up putty nose. Finally,

she fits the mold cut for her by society. ?Our way of life has hardly changed

since a wheel first whetted a knife.? While ?Youth?s Progress?

chronicles the growth of the subject with specific years and ages, ?Barbie

Doll? simply accounts for the passing of time in a story-teller?s fashion of

memories. ?Barbie Doll? ends with the tragedy of a woman who, because she

didn?t live up to the unrealistic standard created for her, resorts to

suicide. ?Youth?s Progress? concludes with the exhortation of public

approval and the sense of eternal life in exchange for submitting to the

unofficial rules of social acceptance, eager to fit the mold. To some, the

immortalized life of Schneider is preferable to the tragic death of Piercy?s

girlchild Young versus old. Death versus eternal life. The positive effects of

society?s pressure versus the negative. The course a life will take is

ultimately decided by the individual, the sum of his choices and reactions to

the cards dealt to him by Life. The choice is yours.

Bowland, Eavan. ?It?s a Woman?s World,? 1982.


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