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In the Waiting Room

In the Waiting Room

by Elizabeth Bishop

Identity Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

What took me
completely by surprise
was that it was me:
my voice in my mouth. (44-47)

Elizabeth hears her aunt cry out from the dentist's office, and imagines that the cry is her own. It's like they're magically fused together and sharing the same painful experience.

Quote #2

Without thinking at all
I was my foolish aunt,
I—we—were falling, falling (48-50)

Her connection to her aunt doesn't involve thinking; it's more of an emotional experience. As she talks about them falling through space, she even imagines that they share a body.

Quote #3

But I felt: you are an I
you are an Elizabeth
you are one of them. (60-62)

There are some contradictions going on here. Earlier, Elizabeth imagines that she is her aunt. Now she asserts her independence: she's an "I" – an individual. Then she gives her name, and says she's "an Elizabeth." That "an" acknowledges that she's just one Elizabeth among many in the world. But then she switches her sentiment again. She says she's "one of them" – she's just like everybody else.

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