The complications of “Prufrock” involve from the poem’s beginning a more direct transformation of the dramatic monologue than does “Gerontion” when the pronouns that “I” uses suggest the presence of an unspecified listener. In many dramatic monologues the listener is also not specified, and the reader is invited to take over the role of listener in a one-sided conversation. In “Prufrock,” however, it is not clear whether a real conversation is being dramatically presented, whether the “I” is having an internal colloquy with himself, or whether the reader is being addressed directly. The “you” that is “I”‘s counterpart stands in two places at once, both inside and outside Prufrock’s mind and inside and outside scenes that can with difficulty be imagined based on the minimal details provided. The reader’s situation resembles the position of the viewer of Velásquez’s “Las Meninas,” in which a mirror invites an identification with the observers of the scene depicted in the painting while the painting’s geometry indicates that the illusion of that identification can be sustained only by ignoring obvious details. Reader and viewer stand both inside and outside the frame of an illusion that cannot be sustained.
Two epigraphs from Dante precede and follow the poem’s title, one for the entire volume that takes its name from “Prufrock,” the other for the poem itself, which stands first in the volume. Together they suggest the oscillation and indeterminacy of Prufrock’s position and the reader’s. In the first epigraph, Statius mistakes Virgil’s shade for a “solid thing” and forgets momentarily what he himself is and can do. In the second, Guido da Montefeltro predicates his address to Dante on the opposite mistake, that Dante is not human and cannot carry his words further. Like Statius and Guido, the reader who tries to pin down the indeterminate identities and locations of “you and I” in the poem will always be mistaken. What is taken for a shade or a figment may be flesh and blood, and what is taken for living flesh may be only a figment in a perpetual instability that marks “Prufrock,” like “Rhapsody,” as the transforming end of a sequence of poems to which it can be said to belong but some of whose implications it subverts. The subversion occurs largely through the removal of those referential, seemingly stable elements of scene and character that contribute to making the illusion of hearing a personal voice in poetry possible.
The Growth of Marietta in Barbara Kingsolver’s The Bean Trees
The Growth of Marietta in The Bean Trees Barbara Kingsolver, in the novel The Bean Trees, portrays the story of a young woman, Marietta Greer, learning about love, responsibility, friendship and the human condition. All of us can relate to the struggles of every day life; however, it is when we must deal with issues that we would rather run from that show our true character. Sooner or later, we all have to confront issues that life bestows on us. Marietta embarks on her journey west in a 1955 Volkswagen with a pledge to get away from Kentucky. She fulfills a promise she has made when she changes her name to “Taylor” after passing through a town named Taylorville. While traveling in Oklahoma, she acquires a three year old she names “Turtle.” It is when Taylor’s car breaks down in Tucson that she and Turtle begin their new life together. Through their travels, they meet up with people who draw them in and provide love and support. Their new friends, Lou Ann, who becomes their roommate, and Mattie, Taylor’s new boss, convince Taylor to return to Oklahoma to find Turtle…