by Sylvia Plath
Stanzas 13 & 14 Summary
Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.
But they pulled me out of the sack,
And they stuck me together with glue.
- Read together with line 58, these lines tell us that the speaker tried to die, but did not succeed.
- They (whoever "they" is) rescued her from killing herself by pulling her out of the sack of death and gluing her back together.
- We can imagine that someone who has been glued back together wouldn't ever feel quite right again.
- The idea of the speaker being pulled out of a sack after she has tried to kill herself reminds us of when she said that her father was a "bag full of God" in line 8.
And then I knew what to do.
I made a model of you,
A man in black with a Meinkampf look
- After the speaker has been rescued from her suicide attempt and glued back together, she seems to have found a new direction in life – now, she "kn[ows] what to do."
- Her new direction in life is to make a model of her father, the man she claims is a Nazi and a devil.
- Of course, she's not actually making a model of this man physically, like creating a clay model. She's creating a substitute for her father, probably by finding a real man whom she imagines is like her father.
- She doesn't call the model a "black man" as she did with her father, but she does say the model's a man in black.
- And she doesn't say that this man has a mustache, but says that he is like Hitler in perhaps an even more direct way: Mein Kampf means "My Struggle" in German, and is the title of a book that was written by Hitler.
- It doesn't make much sense that a person would have a "My Struggle" look. But if you take Meinkampf to mean Hitler, a "Hitler look" does make a little more sense.
And a love of the rack and the screw.
And I said I do, I do.
- So now we know this man, modeled after the speaker's father, wears black and looks like Hitler. Doesn't sound very appealing so far.
- But line 66 makes it even worse – the rack and the screw are both gruesome torture instruments. This man sounds like the epitome of evil – he's like Hitler and loves gruesome torture.
- So what does our speaker do? She marries him, confirming her wedding vows, "I do."
- She set this up earlier, when she claimed that every woman loves a fascist in line 48. Here, the speaker is definitely showing herself in love with a fascist.
- By marrying the man she modeled after her father, the speaker is fulfilling the Electra complex, which is like the female version of the more well-known Oedipus complex. Basically, the Electra complex is a theory that women seek men who are like their fathers, and the Oedipus complex theorizes that men seek women who are like their mothers.
So daddy, I'm finally through.
- Now that she has this model of her father, she's through with her actual father. She doesn't need him anymore.
- Wait, we think – isn't her father dead? How can you be through with someone who is dead?
- As we can see in this poem, even though he is physically dead, her father is still very alive in the memories of the speaker. She's through with her memories of him, and their effect on her daily life.
- We've seen her dangerous obsession with her father throughout this whole poem, so we'd expect to find her relieved upon declaring that she's through with her father. But she's not relieved enough to end the poem here.
The black telephone's off at the root,
The voices just can't worm through.
- Now that she's declared that she's through with her father, the speaker details how she is through with him. It's as if they've been in contact over a phone, which is now "off at the root."
- Of course, the telephone that she used to talk to her father, whom she called a "black man," is also black. This makes it seem mystical – any telephone that you could use to talk to a dead person would, naturally, be black.
- The speaker signifies that she's "through" with her father by saying the phone is "off at the root" – which, for a normal phone, would probably mean something like "it's unplugged."
- The telephone having a root makes the idea that voices can't "worm" through make more sense. We can imagine a black telephone, growing like a plant, from the speaker's father's grave. The voices coming through the phone would be like worms in the soil.
- But now, the phone is cut off – no voices can get through, so the father and daughter can no longer communicate.