The Comparison Of Pivotal Relationships In Cold Sassy Tree And Daddy

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Matthew Meyers
Mrs. Solomon
AP English Literature, 7th

The Comparison of Pivotal Relationships in Cold Sassy Tree and “Daddy”

Change, a loaded word with heavy connotations. It means anything from having a different hair color, to moving across the world; from losing your best friend, to welcoming a little one. Change is inevitable and ever present, especially in literature. Change is the driving factor behind creating a story, and creating the suspense. Something has to change in the lives of the characters for interest to be given by the reader. A change in relationships is by far the easiest to identify, as it is very much present in the ordinary life. Characters develop relationships with others, and this change (or evolution, as it can become) drives the plot of the story further, as we see the outcomes of these changed relationships. In two phenomenal pieces of literature, Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns and “Daddy” by Sylvia Plath, the audience sees how these changes in relationships cause growth and a new way to form for the main characters in each, and how relationships can build up and break down, metamorphasizing the characters from the beginning of each story.

Section 1- The Father of All Relationships: A Discussion on the Poem “Daddy”
In “Daddy” by Sylvia Plath, a woman describes a tumultuous relationship with her dad, and the compilation of the hatred, oppression, and abuse that the relationship entails. Plath showcases the evolution of that relationship, and also the “freeing” of bonds from that relationship, by use of extended metaphor, allusion, and allegory.

Throughout the entire poem, Plath compares the speaker's father to Hitler, further establishing herself as a “Jew”(lines 41-50). This use of allusion to the Holocaust and primary figures in it expresses to the reader the feelings the speaker felt towards her dad, and gives an insight into the type of relationship the speaker had with its dad; an abusive, dark, and “fascist” relationship that left the speaker with an internal wound (lines 40 and 24). The negative relationship the speaker had with its father oppressed the speaker internally, feeling as if they could not express themselves to the father, like a child should (lines 24-27). This oppression and sense of rejection by the father caused the speaker unhappiness and a feeling of failure, so much that the speaker attempted suicide (lines 58-59). Surviving the suicide attempt, the speaker was still haunted by the memories and impression of her fascist father, and married a man who they felt reflected the brutish and negative ways of their father; the speaker “made a model” of their father by finding his features in another outlet, allowing the sense of familiarity with abuse to still keep its hold (lines 64-67 and 72-74). This relationship with the father was an abusive relationship, leaving the speaker with a skewed view of men and them self, finding its worth in gaining approval from its father.

Although this poem tells of the evolution of an abusive relationship between the speaker and their father, there is a closing point that evolves the relationship even more: freedom. This evolution comes through in the speaker releasing itself from its dad's grip; the oppressive and toxic hold he has on the speaker. Plath uses an apostrophe (“Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I'm through) to tell the father that the speaker is through and done (line 80); this expressing to the reader that the hurt is no longer effective to the speaker's existence and the dad's control. This freedom the speaker has found, and the releasing of the hate and anger and pain harbored by the speaker evolves the relationship into nothing. Although that may seem like a paradox, the speaker relinquishing the father's grip, and their longing for the father's approval, allows the speaker to move on and free itself from the detrimental relationship; destroying the linking bond of abuse (and in turn eradicating...
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