Anna Quindlen, a very well-known an well-respected American poet and essayist very frequently uses her own children as inspiration for her works. Her very telling and descriptive narrative “A Mother’s Day Message” is no exception–this time describing at length watching her children grow up, as well as the challenges that go along with motherhood in general.
The following passage taken from the piece outlines the main idea of the theme of her piece overall:
What those books taught me, finally, and what the women on the playground taught me, and the well-meaning relations and the older parents at cocktail parties—what they taught me was that they couldn’t really teach me very much at all…No one knows anything.
She then goes on to explain how all children are different, so it not fair to expect or even to try to predict individual behavior. Admitting she used parenting books and models herself, she warns the reader against making the same mistake she did herself.
However, Anna Quindlen, after using a metaphor regarding photographs to begin the essay, uses a similar one to tie the essay together. She warns prospective parents not to do what she did, which was stress over daily life and obsess of this model or that. She reminds prospective parents to live in the moment–naming that as her one mistake. Naming an old photograph of her children, she finds it disturbing that the details of that day are since gone–all she is left with is an image. Perhaps if the small things in life are not stressed about, we can recall these details and preserve them from vanishing forever.
Sandra Cisneros’s Eleven
The story Eleven by Sandra Cisnernos is, at first glance, an epistolary short story about an eleven-year-old girl and her journal, or diary entries. At closer examination, however, the clear intent, purpose, and means of achieving such, become more and more apparent throughout the story, highlighted by an uncanny tone and voice.
Beginning at the main character Rachel’s eleventh birthday, the major theme of this story is clearly the impressionability, as well as the development Rachel’s narrative takes the reader through, just as if they were experiences through the eyes of the little girl herself.
Throughout the essay, Cisnernos’ word choice, and more broadly her syntax, was what made this story the most effective and frankly genius. Attempting to replicate the grammar, vocabulary, and syntax, while still keeping the adult reader engaged truly is a daunting task. Cisnernos does this fluidly, which is very important to this piece in particular. Without fully comprehending Rachel’s character, it impossible to see the developmental transitions and problems she sees.
Rachel is made to feel very embarrassed by various adults throughout the story, clearly illustrating her struggle with identity as a developing adolescent. Specifically, an example of this is when she is forced to wear the sweater she so hates.
The overall theme of the story, which certainly evoked my own memories of early teen years, was Rachel’s dependence on overbearing people due to her age, but her want and overall need to define herself. Because this was frowned upon, Rachel’s internal pain showed through at various points in the story–primarily shown by Cisnernos’s grammar and syntax.