Carolyn Kizer's Bitch: Closing the Doors on the Past Essay

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Pages: 4

The poem “Bitch” by Carolyn Kizer, published in 1984, is one that truly grasps the reader’s attention, beginning with the title itself. The overall tone of this poem intertwines the feelings of sadness and anger and also reveals quite a bit about the speaker’s past. The speaker is referring to her inner self as the “bitch” and her hurt condition is clearly present throughout the poem. She uses words such as “bark, growling, slobbers and whimper” to drive this meaning across to the reader. It is in the speaker’s own representation of her inner self as a “bitch,” one that not only “bark[s] hysterically,” but also may “whimper,” and even “cringe". The speaker is easily inclined to remember past memories from the relationship and …show more content…
A bitch is always ready to do what one wants and it is clear that this was the sort of relationship that the speaker and her lover had. If he wanted her to wait for something, she was willing to wait. If he needed something, she would get it for him. If she was given an order, she would immediately act upon it. The image of an obedient dog comes to mind while reading these ending stanzas.

Although the speaker is struggling with feelings of anger and repression, she still desires reconciliation. Her emotions are running wild with memories of her past, but she knows she can’t express them. She wants to be the bigger person in this uncomfortable situation because she knows she will end up getting hurt again if she "barks" or "whimpers". In the final lines of the poem, from lines 28 to 34, the speaker reveals her final thoughts and emotions of the past and, especially, for this man, whom she cared for. The speaker seems to have given up her tender feelings for him. As she reveals these aspects, she also gives the readers and the “bitch,” or at least the woman that she was, some information on this man she has been speaking to. The readers learn that the unidentified man has perhaps remarried? (Line 31) Since the bitch sees that he has moved on with his life, she knows that it is only right that she does as well. This is unraveled in the ending of the poem. After fighting with