Study Guide

She's Come Undone What's Up With the Epigraph?

By Wally Lamb

What's Up With the Epigraph?

EPIGRAPH:

Our day will come
If we just wait awhile…

- Ruby and the Romantics

Toward dawn we shared with you
Your hour of desolation,
The huge lingering passion
Of your unearthly outcry,
As you swung your blind head
Toward us and laboriously opened
A bloodshot, glistening eye,
In which we swam with terror and recognition.

- From "The Wellfleet Whale" by Stanley Kunitz

We have a song quote and some poetry doing battle for page space at the beginning of the book.

The song is from 1963 and is a nice little romantic tune about how good things come to those who wait. In other words, this book is going to be complete misery until the end, when Dolores's day will finally come.

The poem is "The Wellfleet Whale," which refers to the whale Dolores visits in the book. The whale is the real deal (like, really truly beached) and Kunitz was allegedly there, even putting his hands on the whale as it died. So this poem is about that: feeling the life ebb away from such a massive, helpless creature.

By the time Dolores finds the whale, she, too, is massively helpless, so she really identifies with the animal, hence the "terror and recognition" in the poem—Dolores recognizes herself in the creature. So much so, in fact, that she decides to lie down and die with it because it doesn't feel like her day will ever come. Only through the intervention of her mother's friend does she survive… unlike the poor whale.