The fascinating character of the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo is brought out in the poem “Frida Kahlo Comes to Dinner” by Christina Strickland. In this poem a narrator describes Frida Kahlo’s behaviour and the atmosphere she creates when she comes to a dinner party. The character of Kahlo depicted in this poem brings out the themes of making the most of life; enjoying yourself; being an individual, and not caring for society’s moral code.
The use of Frida Kahlo’s fascinating character puts a particular perspective on these themes. In the poem we are reminded of the difficulties Frida Kahlo experienced in her life: she lived in “perpetual pain” following an accident involving a tram when she was a young woman. But this did not hinder her from living a full and productive life. She laughed off her pain; in fact, she used it as inspiration. In addition, her fascinating character brings out an interesting perspective on the need for individualism in order to be creative. Frida Kahlo shows that the artist has to be self-centred and ignore social conventions. The narrator contrasts herself with Frida Kahlo: the narrator feels dull, faded because she does not have the dynamic living-life-in-the-moment passions of Frida Kahlo. It is this that makes her an artist. Art demands this.
Frida Kahlo’s fascinating character is brought out in the opening lines by a variety of means used by the writer. It is fascinating to learn how self-centred and selfish Frida Kahlo was. This amazing artist was much loved and respected despite her anti-social behaviour: “Frida Kahlo arrives late, as usual, a little drunk, as usual”. The repetition of “as usual” shows that she is frequently late and drunk. It highlights her thoughtlessness. But she doesn’t care; nor do her hosts and the other guests seem to mind. Her carelessness is further brought in the following line: she flicks her cigarette “scattering fag ash like confetti”. The use of the simile “like confetti” creates an intriguing image. Cigarette ash carelessly dropped in someone’s house would normally be considered unpleasant. However, Frida Kahlo creates this ash into something beautiful. Confetti is brightly coloured – just like her; it also has connotations of fertility (it is used as a symbol of fertility at weddings). In Frida Kahlo’s case the confetti symbolises creating art. These lines convey the selfishness of the artist – how they must take liberties with people in order to be creative. This makes thinking about Frida Kahlo’s behaviour a fascinating experience.
Further on in the poem FK's fascinating character is brought out by her extraordinary appearance. She is described as being very lively: "there is more energy in her hair than in my entire body". This suggests that even something as inanimate as her hair (which is dead matter) in FK's case is a vital part of her. It almost had a personality of its own. The narrator contrasts herself negatively with FK. she feels she has none of FK's dynamism. This is all the more fascinating because FK was so lively despite having to endure "perpetual pain": the alliteration of the /p/ sound highlights her agony). This aspect of her character is developed by the use of a memorable metaphor "grim claws". This animal metaphor to describe her pain highlights how intense her pain was. And, moreover, how she tried to ignore it.
Frida Kahlo's fascinating character is developed further by the descriptions of her actions at this dinner party. Her hand gestures, for