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English II Pre-AP, 5
15 January 2018
Poetry Analysis Essay
In the free-verse novel Sold, which explores Lakshmi’s voyage through prostitution, Patricia McCormick describes Lakshmi’s disturbing realization of reality to reveal her sorrow and ignominy.
In order to reveal Lakshmi’s unbearable gloom, McCormick uses the impactful word “shorn” to portray the ever-growing disgust that erupts in Lakshmi upon realizing the truth (107). McCormick portrays the removal of her hair as an indication that Lakshmi is forcefully being stripped of any self- respect and honor. The brothel owners have essentially tied her hands and left her pursuing this disgusting business. Her bald head, a symbol of eternal shame, portrays the inexplicable disgrace that she is branded with for the rest of her life. The reader recognizes that Lakshmi is unknowingly aiding a disgraceful business, which brings her dishonor and leaves her swamped in misery. McCormick also shows Lakshmi’s torment through the “tear-shaped eyes” of Shahanna, who experienced this ignominy for months (105). The tear-shaped eyes symbolizes the excruciating torture Shahanna has encountered and the subsequent tears. After seeing her eyes, Lakshmi fathoms that she will be submerged in a pool of grief. This helps the readers acknowledge Lakshmi’s unavoidable acceptance of the truth and her consequential plunge into misery. Through her diction, McCormick portrays the magnitude of agony and disgust of Lakshmi to the readers to help them empathize with Lakshmi’s horrific plight.
Additionally, McCormick’s use of personification highlights the degradation and torture that she undergoes. Lakshmi explains that the “number…warps and blurs…fractures into bits…swim before eyes” (106). Lakshmi slowly falls into a state of shock; she cannot digest the fact that a mere number describes her honor, confidence, and her total value. As that number blurs away, it is as if Lakshmi has completely lost her honor to prostitution, which shatters her confidence. The number fragments swimming before her eyes represents Lakshmi’s helplessness while she sees her strength disintegrating before her eyes. Finally, McCormick’s timely personification enables the readers to feel Lakshmi’s anguish and stigma while she sees her respect evaporate in front of her eyes.
Furthermore, McCormick uses multiple similes to exemplify Lakshmi’s plight and disgrace as she slowly starts to perceive reality. Lakshmi describes her “heart pounding like a drumming in the monsoon” and “shoulders are shaking as if I had a…chill” (106). Lakshmi’s feeling of impending doom leaves her shaken. She compares this feeling to the drumming of the monsoon, where every drop of rain depicts every heartbeat leaving Lakshmi with more anxiety, aggravating the situation. The reader can understand that her heartbeat is like a countdown and signals her imminent sacrifice of character, imposing a surge of pain. Moreover, the shake in her shoulders is compared to a great chill that she experiences. This alludes to her attempt to bring back a cheery feeling, but also indicates her reaction to something that is painfully alarming. Lakshmi then begins to “…howl like an animal…” to convey her speechless plight and her begging for some kind of help (108). Her character has been accidentally ruined, and the reader is able to feel that she can neither bear it nor express her misery in any other way. Ultimately, by using carefully chosen comparisons to describe Lakshmi’s fearful reactions, McCormick exhibits Lakshmi’s anguish and opprobrium.
Seemingly, this poem seems to give details about a shocking discovery. However, this poem conveys the torture of Lakshmi when she receives the bitterness of reality. Lakshmi’s “howl like an animal” and “shorn head” portray the magnitude of Lakshmi’s suffering when she slowly starts to realize the truth (106-107). Through Lakshmi’s situation, McCormick exemplifies the message of perseverance in the novel and Lakshmi’s struggles to somehow block out her feelings thereafter.