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“The Kiss”

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This essay analyses the literary elements contained in the poem “The Kiss” by Julia Alvarez. It examines how these elements would affect the general response to the entire poem. According to the essay, the elements serve to reveal great deal of the conflict that runs throughout the poem. Besides, it explains the manner in which these conflicts could reshape the way how interpersonal relations flourish or get strained with the changing times (Clugston, 2010).

The poem details a unique family bond that makes the four Garcia girls return home for an intimate family reunion long after they are all settled in their marriages. However, this reunion serves to reveal the social conflicts that arise from the different lifestyles that each of them has chosen to take. This year, the youngest girl in the family, Sofia, has decided that the annual family celebrations would be held at her home as she has little kids that would not let her travel (Owen, 1987).

As the story unfolds, there occur a lot of conflicts that enable the reader to get the real intended meaning of the poem. Ideally, the conflicts are particularly meant to put emphasis on the major themes of the poem. For instance, Sofia paints a picture of herself as a woman who values her personal freedom. She dropped out of college to pursue a secretarial job against the wishes of the people around her. While working in New York, she actively searches for love in the men she dates. In fact, she follows one up to Colombia only to fall in love with German tourist she meets there. This is not characteristic of women in this society that is largely patriarchal in nature. Such actions of Sofia help the reader understand the extent to which people can go against the social grain and remain unscathed (Julia Alvarez, 1991).

There also appears conspicuously the element of irony in the poem. For instance, since the Garcia girls were married, it has become a tradition that the celebrations were held at their father’s home. However, this “rule” is broken in quite uncharacteristic way as the first person to host the celebrations outside the family premises is Sofia who is also the youngest. In a typical conservative society as this, it would be highly probable that such an opportunity would be reserved for the eldest daughter. However, this serves to further exemplify the changing times especially with regards to social norms. Besides, irony appears when Sofia purportedly kisses their dad. The reader would expect that such an action would only be possible under the influence of alcohol. However, the opposite applies in that Sofia is the most sober of all the girls. In fact, she has been busy throughout the party trying to make the celebrations successful. As such, her pervasive behavior only exemplifies a bold personality that hardly plays by the rules (Clugston, 2010).

The themes of male chauvinism and a struggling feminism clearly strike out from the poem. In fact, this is the main cause of conflict that marks every aspect of the poem. That is why the writer boldly uses various similes to describe Sofia as the force behind the emerging of feminism. For instance, Sofia is described as a “powerful tamed animal” and a “pale ivory moon”. These character traits are associated with her when she overcomes her father’s anger after love letters were found in her drawer. As such, the reader gets an impression of a father who wants his daughters to conform to the social norms while the daughters are becoming unimaginably rebellious (Julia Alvarez, 1991).

In conclusion, these elements basically shape the reader’s opinion of the entire poem. For instance, they shift attention away from the happy moments at the party to the emerging social conflicts that have become synonymous with the society.

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