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Autor: anton • June 23, 2011 • 1,072 Words (5 Pages) • 276 Views
Choice and Circumstance
What happens when the life we choose for ourselves conflicts with the life that is
chosen for us? Ð²Ð‚ÑšShoplifters,Ð²Ð‚Ñœ by Maura Stanton, describes a group of shoplifters whose
circumstances speak to the theme of isolation. They are alone, stealing by choice to fill
the void they each share--a lack of relationship with another human. Ð²Ð‚ÑšNight Waitress,Ð²Ð‚Ñœ
by Lynda Hull, describes a woman working the night shift by choice. The waitress
complains to herself about the isolation she feels from her decision to take this job. She
too longs for relationship, but her situation makes her incapable of fostering any sort of
companionship. The structures of the two works share a similar pattern but in a reverse
order. One poem goes from focusing on a group to focusing on the individual; the
second poem does the opposite. In both works, routine intersects with reality--usually
represented by job related tasks against human nature and impulse. Then one must
ask if either of these categories are the result of personal choice or involuntary
circumstance. The poems Ð²Ð‚ÑšShopliftersÐ²Ð‚Ñœ and Ð²Ð‚ÑšNight WaitressÐ²Ð‚Ñœ illustrate the contrast
between choice and circumstance in the context of relationship, structure, and routine
The sense of loneliness and longing for relationship is so strong and easily
distinguished in both works. The shoplifters circumstances forces them to steal so
that they can foster or mend some type of relationship in their lives. All characters but
one choose to steal something that will benefit some other influence in their lives.
Ð²Ð‚ÑšNight WaitressÐ²Ð‚Ñœ is a different story. Her choice is determining her circumstance.
She longs and feels the need for relationship but chooses not to do anything about it
because of her job.
The lack of a male figure is also another common factor of the two works. Not
as easily recognized, but it is there. Ð²Ð‚ÑšShopliftersÐ²Ð‚Ñœ mentions three type of women, a
widowed mother, a nun, and two old sister. All three lacking the influence of a male
figure. The widowed mother has the lack due to death. The nun obviously is lacking a
male figure due to choice. The two old sisters could have the lack by choice or perhaps
just coincidence. They could be referred to as spinsters, which is a term used to
refer to single older women who live with other women.
Structure is a very important element in literature. Ð²Ð‚ÑšShopliftersÐ²Ð‚Ñœ and Ð²Ð‚ÑšNight
WaitressÐ²Ð‚Ñœ use a very unique type of structure. Ð²Ð‚ÑšShopliftersÐ²Ð‚Ñœ starts out with the phrase Ð²Ð‚ÑšIÐ²Ð‚™d
smoke in the freezer among the hooked beefsides, wondering about the shoplifters who
wept when the managerÐ²Ð‚™s nephew tugged them to his office.Ð²Ð‚Ñœ (Stanton, 1) This phrase
gives the poem a cold, dark sense. The poem ends up making a complete
position reversal. Ending with the phrase Ð²Ð‚ÑšNow he peers through the window, watching
me bag groceries for hours until my hands sweatÐ²Ð‚Ñœ (Stanton, 38). The poem still has a
dark feel, but it now gives the sense of hot and sticky. Ð²Ð‚ÑšNight WaitressÐ²Ð‚Ñœ has a similar
reversal but instead of using temperature, it takes the reversal in the sense of
perception. The server talks as if she is invisible to the men that come into the
dinner at night, she says that they donÐ²Ð‚™t see her because sheÐ²Ð‚™s tired. Ð²Ð‚ÑšAt this hour the
men all look as if theyÐ²Ð‚™d never had mothers. They donÐ²Ð‚™t see me.Ð²Ð‚Ñœ (Hull, 10) By the end of
the poem this perception has turned. Ð²Ð‚ÑšMen surge to the factories and IÐ²Ð‚™m too tired to
lookÐ²Ð‚Ñœ (Hull, 41). Instead of her being invisible to the men, they are invisible to her.
What is the quality that links the waitress and the bagger? Both poems are
told in the first-person,