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by Sylvia Plath

Daddy Freedom and Confinement Quotes

How we cite our quotes: stanza, line

Quote #1

You do not do, you do not do
Any more, black shoe
In which I have lived like a foot
For thirty years, poor and white,
Barely daring to breathe or Achoo. (lines 1-5)

In the very start of the poem, we get an image of how our narrator is trapped – she's calling her father a shoe that she's been stuck inside of. Even more, by starting off with a nursery rhyme, she appeals to 1960s images of her gender, which focused on the role of women as mothers and housewives.

Quote #2

The tongue stuck in my jaw.

It stuck in a barb wire snare.
Ich, ich, ich, ich, (lines 25-27)

Even the speaker's tongue is stuck in this poem! She can't say the word "I." She appears to be so trapped by her fear of her dead father that she's unable to define herself.

Quote #3

An engine, an engine
Chuffing me off like a Jew.
A Jew to Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen. (lines 31-33)

The speaker brings up a terrifying image of confinement, that of the Jews imprisoned in concentration camps during the Holocaust. It's a big risk for the speaker to compare herself to a Jew – it's a serious topic that she could be seen to be taking lightly. But she feels that she has been, and that women have been, victimized enough to merit the metaphor.

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