Overcoming Notions And Finding Identity Essay

828 words - 3 pages

The poem "Woman" by Nikki Giovanni tells a story of a female who straggles to fuse together her need for self actualization and empowerment, with the socially instilled in her notion about her role as a female, and with the notion that she needs to have a man in her life to achieve what she wants. At the end of her struggles she instead chooses to be a "Woman" - a separate entity who does not require a man, - and she discovers that that is "all / right"(22,23). Through the act of becoming a "Woman", a wholly independent opposite to a man, yet his equal, she relinquishes her notions regarding her role as a mare female, and empowers herself to achieve her goals without a man.

Except for the title the entire poem is written in lowercase letters, no single word is capitalized. Capital letters are used to identify names and to place emphasis; therefore they are often associated with importance, or identity. Absence of capitalization in the poem is symbolic of the main character's belief of what her role as a female should be. She believes that she must blend in, that she is lower than a man maybe even inferior.

The initial line in the poem gives us a glimpse into her true desires. As we read "she wanted to be a blade"(line 1) our initial interpretation is that she desires to be strong like a steel blade, powerful and sharp. But in the second line of the poem her notions limit her desire and she takes a step back stating that she only wants to be a blade "of grass" undistinguishable in "the field."

Boxed in by her notions, she turns to a man to be her "dandelion"(4) amongst a field of grass. Here dandelion is a symbol for identity. Dandelion is very vibrant and can be seen from a distance amongst the grass. Sadly in line three the man refuses that responsibility.

In the second quatrain the same symbolic pattern emerges. In line five she expresses her desire to be "a robin singing." She wished to be vocal and outspoken, but she is yet again limited by her notions about a female's role. Again the female turns to a man to be her "leaves"(6), to give her means to remain sheltered in the background yet able to express herself. However the man "refuses to be / her tree"(7,8), he refuses to give her...

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