Essay on The Woman Hanging, By Joy Harjo

Essay on The Woman Hanging, By Joy Harjo

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Throughout “The Woman Hanging,” Joy Harjo uses repetition and powerful diction to grasp the attention of the reader in order to describe the pressure on women as mothers. In the poem, Harjo describes who the woman hanging is in relation to other people rather than herself through the use of repetition. The woman is described as a mom of Carlos, Margaret and Jimmy, a daughter, and a wife that has been married twice stating “She is several pieces between the two husbands / she has had” (Harjo 10-13). The first descriptions we receive regarding this woman (who we know is hanging from a building) do not explain why she is hanging or who she is; rather, they tell the story of her life. This is significant because it shows that as herself, she is not important. She is important because she is a mom, daughter, and wife. This quote implies that her role as these things is more important than her role as an individual, especially since her name is not revealed. The lack of the revelation of her name emphasizes that the identity of the young woman is not as important as who she is in relation to other people. In addition, this point is also emphasized through the repetition of the words “she is” when describing who the women is, while she never reveals who the women truly believes herself to be. The repetition of this phrase sets up a rhythm that allows the reader to understand who the woman is in the eyes of other people while never revealing who she sees herself to be. Through the quote referencing the woman’s multiple husbands Harjo suggests that because the woman has a failed marriage, her life is automatically less valuable than a woman who has a successful first marriage. Next, Harjo describes the woman in comparison to the other wom...


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...change from playing with toys to cutting off body parts exhibits how hard it is to be unsure of yourself in a society that judges women so harshly. In the final moments of the poem, Piercy describes the young teen on her death bed. Her face is perfect as it has cosmetics “painted on” along with a “turned up putty nose” (20-21). She is dressed in a pink and white night gown. Those around her comment on how pretty she looks. This shows that the only time anyone will ever see a teenage girl as perfect is when she is destroyed. This girl was murdered by the judgment of society; the first time society ever complimented her was after it had destroyed her. Throughout “Barbie Doll” society’s standards that are imposed on teenage girls are brought to life through the description of this young lady’s experience with bullying, which ultimately brought her to perfection, death.

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