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by Sylvia Plath

Daddy Mortality Quotes

How we cite our quotes: stanza, line

Quote #1

Daddy, I have had to kill you.
You died before I had time – (lines 6-7)

Here we get our first paradoxical look at mortality. It's not possible to kill someone who's already dead, but you can count on our speaker to try. These lines reveal the core of this poem – the speaker's father died, and she still hasn't coped with it.

Quote #2

A Jew to Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen.
I began to talk like a Jew.
I think I may well be a Jew. (lines 33-35)

Here, the speaker references concentration camps, where millions of Jews died during the Holocaust. She is so distraught in the face of her dead father's memories – especially the memories of his German characteristics – that she feels like she's a Jew in the Holocaust, on her way to a tragic and mass death.

Quote #3

I was ten when they buried you.
At twenty I tried to die
And get back, back, back to you.
I thought even the bones would do. (lines 57-60)

These lines show us explicitly that the speaker's father's death led to an attempt to take her own life. She thought that, when she was dead, she could be with her father again, even if just her bones were close to his bones. Death is desirable for the speaker. She longs to know the boundaries of her own mortality.

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