The Negative Marks of Life

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Linda Pastan’s poem “Marks” is skillfully written about a woman who is constantly being judged by her children and husband on her ability to carry out day to day household responsibilities. The title sets the tone and direction of the poem right from the start. The word “marks” imposes on the idea that the woman is going to receive some type of grade. She receives different grades from each family member, like one would see in school report card. Just like a teacher would evaluate and place a value on a students work, the woman’s family evaluates and places a value on her household duties. The speaker in “Marks” is obviously less than pleased with the idea of continually being judged, by using the controlling metaphor of grades as way of talking about her performance of family duties suggests her irritation (Norton 806). The meaning placed behind the metaphor is to express to readers the idea no one appreciates being judged. I believe the metaphor sets the poem up to read in a sarcastic and aggravated tone up until the last two lines where it turns to a more serious tone when the speaker decides she has had enough, “Wait ‘till they learn / I’m dropping out” (Pastan 11-12). It is made clear that the woman performs most of the family duties. She cooks supper, irons the clothes, takes care of two children and fulfills her husband’s needs. Instead of the family appreciating her hard work and dedication to them they respond by grading her efforts. The husband, son and daughter all use a different grading system to access the woman. The husband grades with the typical A-F grading scale and the complete/incomplete system throughout the first four lines. She was given the following marks, “an A for last night’s supper”, “an incomplete f... ... middle of paper ... ...ould overcome it (Norton 807). The woman’s idea of “dropping out” and not performing her daily duties would force the family to recognize all that she does and more importantly appreciate all of her hard word without constantly putting a value on it. Works Cited Albrecht, Arne K., Nancy L. Galambos, and S. M. Jansson. "Adolescents' Internalizing and Aggressive Behaviors and Perceptions of Parents' Psychological Control: A Panel Study Examining Direction of Effects." Journal of Youth and Adolescence 36.5 (2007): 673-84. ProQuest. Web. 31 Mar. 2014. Pastan, Linda "Marks." The Norton Introduction to Literature. 11th Ed. New York: W.W Norton, 2013. 806. Print. "Visual Imagery and Figures of Speech." The Norton Introduction to Literature Shorter Eleventh Edition. Ed. Spencer Richardson-Jones and Hannah Blaisdell. 11th ed. New York City: Norton, 2013. 802-12. Print.

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