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Living in Sin

Living in Sin

by Adrienne Rich

Dissatisfaction Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

She had thought the studio would keep itself;
no dust upon the furniture of love. (1-2)

The first line of the poem introduces us to the theme of dissatisfaction by using the pluperfect verb tense "had thought." We know from the beginning that the woman's life has not turned out the way she imagined it would.

Quote #2

Half heresy, to wish the taps less vocal,
the panes relieved of grime. (3-4)

Even though the woman seems a bit complacent throughout the poem, the fact that she "wishes" the studio (her relationship) were not in disrepair shows that she is dissatisfied with how things have turned out. Even so, wishing things would magically "be" a certain way shows that she doesn't really want to work to make them the way she wants them.

Quote #3

Meanwhile, he, with a yawn,
sounded a dozen notes upon the keyboard,
declared it out of tune, shrugged at the mirror,
rubbed at his beard, went out for cigarettes; (15-18)

This quote doesn't actually show much dissatisfaction, but we include it as a contrast to the woman's clear dissatisfaction. Check out the large number of commas in this set of lines. There's a cool word for that: asyndeton. Asyndeton is when words or phrases are piled on top of one another using commas instead of more grammatically correct conjunctions or other punctuation. Here it gives sort of a thoughtless, nonchalant, or careless flavor to the man's actions. The man notices that the piano (the relationship) is out of tune, but he merely makes the declaration, shrugs, and leaves. He doesn't seem very bothered by it.

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