The aging process is something that everyone must eventually contend with, and it can be hard on one’s self and one’s family. It is inherently ripe for conflict, which is one of the reasons it is so frequently used in the artistic sphere; it involves conflict between people, dependency, changing relationships and even conflict between the mind, the soul and the body itself…
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One of the most important ways Song’s poem comments on the negative impact that the reversal of child-parent dynamic that occurs with the elderly is her focus on the idea that it is physically harmful to the child who now has to care for their elderly parent. The third line of the poem describes the speaker’s physical state – one that could at first be mistaken for that of a sickly elderly person. Despite the fact that the speaker is the youngest of six children, and thus could not be very old to have a living mother (24), her skin is “damp / and pale as rice paper” (Song 3-4), and later the speaker describes her skin as “aspirin-colored” (12). This description of sickly appearance, combined with the medical language “aspiring-colored” immediately gives the reader an image of someone who is under great strain, and someone whose life-style is suffering greatly for some reason. Song goes on to emphasize that these physical ailments are directly related to the fact that the speaker, the youngest daughter, must care for her mother. She does so by forming an implicit connection between the mother and the daughter, by describing her skin as having the same color and texture that her mother’s did when she was a caregiver (6), and by providing images of the mother continuing her care-taker role by “massaging the left side” of the speaker’s face when she has headaches. These images directly conflate the mother and daughter into the same care-taking role, showing it to be a source of conflict – the child must care for the mother even as the mother continues to try to care for the child. Song then demonstrates explicitly how the youngest daughter has had to take on a care-taking role, through a long narration of the process of bathing her mother daily. Song puts a great deal of emphasis on the reversal of the care-taking relationship that exists between child and parent to show how this has been the source of the physical ailments in the daughter’s life. The physical ailments, however, are not the most damaging – having to take care of her elderly mother has, more importantly, given the speaker a sense of hopelessness that seems impossible to shake. Hopeless images come in two major forms throughout this work: images of darkness and images of eternity. Light is an almost universal image for hope in poetry (Gray), and the absence of light, is thus obviously the absence of hope. Obviously an eternity in darkness, and thus without hope, is something that would be depressing to everyone. By connecting these images Song shows that her speaker has truly fallen into despair through caring for her elderly mother: she is in darkness, and thus without hope, and as there is no light imagery anywhere in the poem, there is not even a hope for hope. The poem opens with a sense of darkness which sets the mood of despair for the entire work: “the sky has been dark,” the poem says, “for many years,” connecting ideas of darkness and eternity (1-2). This construction is paralleled by the close of the bathing scene, where the speaker laments
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(“Argumentative Essay Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 1000 words”, n.d.)
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(Argumentative Essay Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 1000 Words)
“Argumentative Essay Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 1000 Words”, n.d. https://studentshare.org/other/1393136-argumentative-essay.
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