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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Young Housewife

William Carlos William

William Carlos Williams (September 17, 1883 – March 4, 1963) was an American poet closely associated with modernism and Imagism. He was also a pediatrician and general practitioner of medicine, having graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. Williams "worked harder at being a writer than he did at being a physician"; but during his long lifetime, Williams excelled at both.

“The Young Housewife”

The poem follows a chronological order and it is in a narrative style. It consists of four sentences and follows a first person narrative. This poem comes under the genre of experimental poetry. Carlos is often known as an “Imagist Poet”.

“THE” young housewife refers to a particular women; it is a pictorial story/representation of a women’s life. This woman is “gazed” as a desirable object by the narrator. Negligee worn by her can also be compared as “negligently” dressed. The narrator claims that he passed solitary on his car; referring to a possibility that he is not generally accustomed to travel alone.

In the first stanza, we see her within the boundaries of her husband’s house wherein she is wondering about in a negligee. A question which arises is, how does the poet know about this fact. Then again she came out to meet the ice-man and the fish-man; there is emphasis on the “man” she meets in the absence of her husband.

Her dressing has been elaborately described by the poet. She was un-corseted with her hair unkempt to which he compares her to a FALLEN LEAF. There is two possible explanations for this- one refers to her aesthetic body, to which she pays no attention to. Another refers to the possibility of her being “fallen” from grace as she is no longer fresh, not a virgin anymore. There is a sexual imagery wherein the poet might consider her to be a commercial sex worker (reason might be her contact with other man and also as she was un-corseted). Also another point to notice is that sexual organs or sexuality is present in terms of shrubs, “Leaf”.

The last stanza has an imagery of sound/auditory, “crackling sound over dried leaves”. There is a silence in the ending which might indicate the sexual intercourse between the poet and the woman. The silence is mysterious and the poet offers no reason for his smile. Also, the fact that he drove his car over DRIED LEAVES might indicate that his use or need for her was over. It displays a derogatory image of women as previously he had considered her to be a fallen leaf.

There is a conflict whether the poem is “De-feminising” in nature due to the status given to the women by him; i.e as a fallen leaf and dried leaf. On the other hand, few critics consider this poem to be from a feminist point of view as the poem is based on a woman’s life, there is a lot of importance given to her; The poem deals with a WOMAN’s and not a man’s sexual conquest.

Pinto, Anil. 'Analysis of 'The Young Housewife.'' Christ University. Sep. 2010. Lecture.
William Carlos William. 'The Young Housewife.' N.p. N.d.

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