Thursday, May 8, 2008

Theory Question

Here's a theory question post on a wierd little poem. It's anonymous and it's found on p. 209 of the Norton. It reads,

There was a young girl from St. Paul,
Wore a newspaper-dress to a ball.
The dress caught on fire
And burned her entire
Front page, sporting section and all. (209. 1-5)

This is just a funny little limerick but it is an interesting piece to look at from a feminist's perspective. The second thing we learn about the girl, after where she's from is what she is wearing. Clothing being such a stereotypical preoccupation for women, we already know that this poem is going to play with cultural attitudes towards women. The part of the paper that catches on fire is the "front page" and we can only imagine what the sporting section might be. The front page of the newspaper is always what people first look at; it's what is made specifically to catch people's attention. This is similar to the way women are made to feel they need to present themselves. The assumption is that they will be judged on attraction and material attributes before substance. Further, the sporting section is the part that all men (stereotypically) are most interested in. We brush the other stuff aside just to get to that sports section. But once this girl's dress is ruined, she is essentially ruined. Once she loses her attraction no one will be interested in he anymore according to the persona. So here are some questions:

1)Does the fact that this girl is from St. Paul contribute anything to the feminist interpretation of the poem? Does this say anything about Christianity and attitudes toward women?

2)Her dress is ruined when it catches on fire. What can the burning of he dress be a metaphor for?

3)Does the newspaper dress go beyond feminism and adress social status as well? If so, how does social status connect with cultural attitudes towards women?

*****It was a fun semester--Thanks to everyone and good luck!*******

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