divinginto the wreck - Tankesley Lauren Tankesley American...

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Tankesley Lauren Tankesley American Literature 2130 Professor Newton October 9, 2006 Dissecting the Wreck Up until the mid-twentieth century, gender bias has been prevalent throughout history. Suppression, aggression, and degradation are but a few things women have had to endure throughout history. However, towards the end of the period of publicized female ridicule in the twentieth century, the idea of feminism developed. Women all over the world began voicing their protest to the common culture of male favoritism. One such poet, Adrienne Rich, is a feminist writer of the mid-twentieth century, and she wrote several representational pieces pertaining to feminism. In Adrienne Rich’s “Diving into the Wreck,” the objects the diver uses and the wreck itself represent the dominance of sexual classification in history and how women can and should tear down the barriers of gender. In the first stanza of the poem, the diver, who is assumed to be a woman, describes three objects that have great significance in her dive: a book of myths, a camera, and a knife. First, she explains that she has “read the book of myths” (1). She must read the book in order to understand the myth and then embark on a journey to change it. This particular myth represents a falsity believed to be common knowledge. The book represents a history of male dominance, a history that originally had no place for female explorers, writers, or females in general. The myth is that of male and female differences. The historical importance of women has been hidden, so when the diver 1
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Tankesley plunges into the wreck with a complete understanding of the “myth”, she is discovering the reality of it for herself and her fellow women. The diver later mentions that “The words are purposes. / The words are maps” (53-54). The story in the myth guides her to the underwater wreck, yet gives her direction toward refuting the falsehood. At the end of the poem, she says she is “the one who finds our way / back to this scene…carrying…a book of myths / in which / our names do not appear” (89-94). With this statement, the diver means that women go on with their everyday lives even though they do not receive recognition for anything they do. She seems to say that only the women who have experienced the isolation of gender prejudice can write the new story and inscribe their names in the book of myths. Also, the camera represents her willingness to record and preserve what she has found. She wishes to change the myth and give society a new
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