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Traditional Womens Roles in I Sit and Sew

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The second stanza also presents a subtle shift in power. While in the first stanza it is suggested that men are the active and powerful ones, in the second stanza the woman feels “ pity” for them. The position of feeling pity for someone suggests that the person experiencing the emotion is more powerful than the person at whom the emotion of pity is directed. The fact that the progress of emotion from helplessness in the first stanza to pity in the second stanza takes place within the narrative framework of the speaker’ s monologue also suggests that in some ways it is the act of reflection while sewing that has allowed her to examine her emotions and her situation objectively. The device of the transferred epithet/pathetic fallacy is continued in the third stanza with the image of the “ idle patch. ” While patchwork-quilt making may be considered a creative act, the speaker finds no solace in her creativity.

She feels instead that she is being idle and useless, her creativity serving no apparent purpose. The verb “ dream” is used again as she reflects on the dream-like state of her existence.

For the first time, she seems to actively question the situation that she has been forced into, by asking a deliberate question and thereby taking on a more proactive stance. The idea of the “ homely thatch” is again juxtaposed with the horrific backdrop of men dying in the mud and the rain. The image of the house conveys a sense of being protected, whereas the men are out facing the worst of fates. Nevertheless, the words “ patch” and “ thatch” also convey a sense of fragmentation.

The home that the woman is in is not complete, both because of the absence of the man and because of her fragmented sense of self and her inability to do what she yearns to do. Stanza three also returns to the image that the poem began with – that of a woman sitting and sewing, and contemplating her situation. In some ways, the poem uses the device of starting from point A, moving to point B, which is a point far away from point B, and then returning to point A with a different sense of what the original point is like.

 

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