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Living in Sin

Living in Sin

by Adrienne Rich

The Beetle

Symbol Analysis

The beetle is another odd figure. But check out the fact that Rich doesn't just mention a beetle, but focuses on his eyes. Maybe this beetle, like the milkman, is yet another "witness," reminding the woman of the reality of her living situation.

  • Lines 13-14: This is one brave beetle. He doesn't scurry away like most beetles would. No, this beetle fixes his eyes on the woman, staring her down as if it's judging her! Technically speaking this is a synecdoche, using a part (eyes) to represent a whole (first, the single beetle, but then in line 14 a whole "village" of beetles). The beetle is another indicator of the filth in the woman's studio. But as a figure who stares the woman down and is described as an "envoy" (another word for "messenger") from a village, we get the sense that maybe he's going to go "tell on" the woman for living in such a place! That's harsh criticism coming from a beetle!

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