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Suburban Sonnet Summary

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Poetry & Poets

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Suburban Sonnet, Gwen Harwood
Subject Matter:
This piece exposes the mixed blessing of children and the darker side of motherhood.
Key Quotes
Techniques and Impact on Reader

"zest and love, drain out with soapy water"
This image has been juxtaposed against "zest and love", enhancing the way they have seeped from her existence
* "drain" is emphasised through its positioning
* Becomes a part of domestic life (left over dirty dishes)
* All her hopes, dreams, desires and love are being washed away
* Domestic life is draining away everything positive from her life
* Domestic life is overpowering her
* Presents a negative light on domestic life
* Her identity has been taken away
* Destruction and loss of what she has foregone

"her veins ache"
Bringing her back to the reality of the painful, physical world
* Positioning audience to sympathise with mother
* Veins being used to represent supply of blood (life)
* Her whole self is aching
* The life (blood flowing through her is aching), pain associated with life force

"she comforts them"
An indication of love and affection towards her children regardless of what they have taken away from her
* Still a very caring mother, attentive to her children's needs

"she practises a fugue, though it can matter to no one if she plays well or not"
Imposed submission, having to admit that society doesn't care
* Suburban life is draining her sense of identity, losing it to a domestic role
* Dispassionate ... bluntness creates a lot of sympathy for mother
* Music is usually performed for an audience but no one cares
* No one cares about the mothers talents
* Shows how others view/treat her in society, how little they care for her as an individual
* Lack of individuality challenges traditional Australian values
* Musical reference to the career she could have had

"tasty dishes from stale bread"
An expectation from the media and wider society that the women will glamorise, what is passed its used by date
* Expectations of society being challenged
* Mother cannot glamourize domestic life
* She is trying to but can't
* What society expects vs reality

"The children caper round a sprung mousetrap where a mouse lies dead.
When the soft corpse won't move, they seem afraid"
Mouse is being personified
* Giving it human form contrasts mouse's life to the women herself
* Symbolising the women herself as dead and stripped of her identity, consumed by the role of her domestic life
* Symbolises that the mother is entrapped by the domestic life
* That all her previous hopes, dreams and desires are now dead
* Her old life is dead and replaced with her domestic life which is consuming her

"drain out with soapy water as she scours the crusted milk"
2 different kinds of imagery of maternity
* Milk is a representation on motherhood
* Crusted milk suggests that the relationship with the mother and children ...

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Keywords: suburban sonnet analysis, suburban sonnet meaning poem, sonnet 81 summary

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