Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Explication of 35/10 by Sharon Olds

The speaker is a mother of a child. The speaker laments about her aging and acts jealous towards her daughter’s aging. While the mother develops a “fold in [her] neck” the daughter’s “fine bones of her hips sharpen” (6-8). The mother seems jealous of her daughter’s aging. Her daughter is growing into her prime stages, while the mother is leaving that stage.
The mother describes her skin as “dry pitting” (9). Pitting has a negative connotation. She describes her daughter’s skin “like a moist precise flower” (9-10). The mother describes her predicament as an end while the daughter is opening like the petals of a flower. This comparison between the mother and daughter’s skin has emotional weight. It tells the story of the circle of life; as the mother grows older so does the daughter, but the daughter is growing into her glory days while her mother is moving away from those days.
The speaker than compares the eggs of the mother and child. The speaker goes so far as saying her eyes are “duds”. Duds has an extremely negative connotation. This expresses a blue feeling because the mother describes her aging as wilting away. She will soon no longer be able to bear children. In contrast the daughter’s eggs are so young they are about “to snap its clasp” (15). In addition she describes the eggs as “firm as hard- boiled yolks” (14). Hard boiled is an interesting choice of words. Hard- boiled describes an egg that is firm from being cooked for a period of time. Hard boiled eggs are firm but cooked as well. Hard- boiled may also describe the mother’s eggs because they have been cooked, if you will, for a longer period of time.

In the last stanza, the speaker describes this juxtaposition of her and her daughter as replacement. She calls it an “old story” because it has happened many times before. Yet, even though it is an old story, it still elicits emotion. Replacement is an old story in a world sense, but it is not an old story to the mother. It is still devastating for the mother even though it has happened to other mothers before. 

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