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Living in Sin

Living in Sin

by Adrienne Rich

Dissatisfaction Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #4

while she, jeered by the minor demons,
pulled back the sheets and made the bed and found
a towel to dust the table-top,
and let the coffee-pot boil over on the stove. (19-22)

Check out the cool contrast between the style of these lines and the style of lines 15-18 (quoted on page 1). Above Rich uses asyndeton to show the man's carelessness, and here she uses…get ready for another awesome SAT word…polysyndeton! Polysyndeton is just the opposite of asyndeton. It's when words or phrases are piled on top of one another with a bunch of conjunctions, when commas might sound more natural. After we get the impression that the man doesn't care a whole lot about the state of their studio and relationship, we are told in contrast that the woman is "jeered by the minor demons." While the man nonchalantly shrugs and leaves, the woman performs a series of tasks to attempt to remedy the situation, and each task is laboriously connected with an "and." The polysyndeton here gives the impression of excessive effort (even though the actual actions don't seem so laborious). Notice, though, that while the woman puts in some effort to make the bed and dust the table, she lets the coffee pot boil over. This detail suggests that despite minor efforts, the cycle of neglect will never end.

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