by Rita Dove
Persephone, Falling Theme of Women and Femininity
We could have just as easily said family, but "Persephone, Falling" is really all about mothers and daughters. Dove is trying to reconcile all the thoughts and desires she had when she was a child with all the fears and anxieties she has now that she is a mom. In the poem, Persephone is a daughter longing to be free of her mother's overprotection, while her mother longs to keep her safe, innocent and childlike.
Questions About Women and Femininity
- What exactly is central conflict between the Persephone and her mother? Are they actually at odds?
- Do you think the mother really only wants the best for her daughter, or is she being a little selfish also?
- How is this relationship different from a father and son?
- Check out the last two lines. Whom do you hold responsible for what happened to Persephone?
Chew on This
Persephone's desire to distinguish herself from her mother chases her right into the arms of a dangerous man.
Demeter's real struggle in this poem is not how to keep her daughter safe, but how to let her go.