To a Daughter Leaving Home
In Linda Pastan’s poem,” To a Daughter Leaving Home,” it illustrates just through the title alone how a moment that is so small like teaching your child how to ride a bike can represent so much. She uses poetic devices to help translate the poem into an actual story. It also compares how teaching one to ride a bike is just like teaching someone how to prepare for life itself. Pastan uses a situation almost everyone goes through as a metaphor illustrating how it coincides with the adventures of growing up into an adult. Pastan also uses tone to convey the message of a worried mother teaching her young daughter how to ride a bike. She uses tone, imagery and a metaphor throughout the entirety of the poem to illustrate how something almost everyone goes through, riding a bike, can be used to tell a story about a daughter growing and becoming independent.
Pastan uses many poetic devices to illustrate her poem To a Daughter Leaving Home is much more than just a mother teaching her daughter how to ride a bike. She uses imagery when she says, “as you wobbled away,” showing how she didn’t have complete control of the bike. She also says, “pulled ahead down the curved path.”(line 16) Both these quotes explain how life can illustrate how life is fun, but can also be dangerous. “I kept waiting for a thud of crash” (line 11-12) this can tell us that the parent is worried and panicking over the daughter getting hurt, which in this situation seems imminent. The parent goes sprinting after the daughter. “smaller, more breakable” This explains how the daughter in the parent’s eyes see the daughter as fragile and anything can happen at any time, but the daughter continues to go without help on her bicycle “pumping, pumping”. This potentially illustrates how she goes on with her life even with the chance of falling, but can also be related to a parent watching their child grow and weave their way through life’s problems. The quote, “screaming with laughter” makes the parent feel as if they are the only one that believes daughter is in danger, because the daughter is on a bike that she is just learning how to ride. The deeper meaning in that is, as she got older she was going through life independently, a life the parent thought she wasn’t the best she could’ve done, but to the daughter it was only full of enjoyment. The daughter continues on the bike without the mother’s assistance is illustrated with the line, “the hair flapping” which to the parent is a “handkerchief” waving “goodbye”. The daughters handkerchief “waving goodbye” shows how fast one can grow up. Moments ago, the mother was right with her daughter, but now she’s down the path moving further and further away.
Pastan uses the entire poem of a girl riding a bike as a huge metaphor to represent growing up and how it can be compared to riding a bike. Pastan focuses on a particular part of family life to tell us a story that is much more complex. When she says, “wobbled away, pulled ahead down the curved path, while you grew smaller, more breakable with distance,” (line 15-17) it compares how a child might be leaving their parents’ house and are struggling to get on the feet by facing the challenges of life or hitting bumps in the road. These challenges could very well break her and make her come back, but instead she keeps “pumping, pumping for her life,” depicting how she isn’t going to let these challenges get in her way or stop her from continuing in independent life without her mother. Pastan uses this metaphor to show how a mother sees their child move through each stage of their life until they hit adulthood and are on their own, while also informing us how a mother feels during these stages.
The tone of this poem assists the reader in seeing the parental perspective that the mother is telling this elaborate story through her daughter learning how to ride a bike. The quote,” my own mouth rounding in surprise when you pulled ahead down the curved path tells us the mother is shocked, but happy to see the daughter going down a path she wasn’t expected to take. While the line “sprinting to catch up, while you grew smaller, more breakable with distance” conveys how nervous the mother is to see her child leave her to face challenges in her own life. “Pumping, pumping for your life, screaming with laughter”(line 18-20) gives a us the impression the mother is watching her daughter enjoy her independent life no matter what challenges are getting in her way. Pastan portrays that the daughter slowly detached from her mother as she grew and explored the different aspects of life. While the daughter left her mother happily looking forward to a bright future, the mother feels pretty sad as she is left alone with the memories that she had with her daughter ever since she was born and also learns to let go.
As can be seen the poem, To a Daughter Leaving Home by Linda Pastan uses many poetic devices to translate a poem into a complex story. Pastan uses tone, imagery and a unique metaphor throughout the entirety of the poem. She uses these devices to illustrate how something almost everyone goes through, riding a bike, can be used to tell a story about a daughter growing and becoming independent
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