Study Guide

Women Setting

By Louise Bogan

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A Farm

We talk a bit about the setting of this poem over in our "Symbols, Imagery, Wordplay" section, so hit that up first before we go too much further here…

Up to speed? Great. Let's say a bit more, then, about life down on the farm. And "down on the farm" is really the best way we can think of to describe this poem's setting, given that we get cows, crops, and wood-chopping in just five short stanzas. Clearly, our speaker is imagining an agricultural backdrop to her critiques.

But why? What is it about life on the farm that suits our poem's purposes? We think it has to do with the pretty traditional separation of women's and men's "work" when it comes to farming. The stereotypical idea of farming puts women in the farmhouse, making biscuits and then ringing one of those iron triangles to call the menfolk in from the fields—what with all their macho manual-laboring—when it's time for supper.

Just by picking that setting, Bogan is already calling to mind a pretty stark divide between women and men. And that, folks, is really the perfect starting point from which to build her list of gender-minded critiques.

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