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The Woman

Symbol Analysis

We know little about the woman, except for brief snippets of information about her small shoulders, her dreams, and her family history. More important, at least for the speaker, is how she brings to mind happy memories from his childhood, which is now behind him. Nonetheless, the imagery surrounding the woman is the emotional heart of the poem, and it leads the poet to the beautiful final lines.

  • Line 18: The image of the woman’s "small shoulders" is all that we know about her physical appearance.
  • Lines 19-20: The speaker uses metaphor to compare his "violent wonder" to a "thirst for salt." When people are dehydrated, they thirst for both water and salt. Although the body needs salt, it is bitter and not particularly tasty.
  • Lines 26-28: The speaker provides more information about the woman, including the image of "the way her hands dismantled bread," which sounds slightly jarring.

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