Can anyone interpret Adrienne Rich's poem "Amnesia" from feminist's viewpoint?critical appreciation

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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In Adrienne Rich's poem, "Amnesia," I do not believe it to be a feminist poem. Usually the theme of feminism includes a sense of a woman's oppression by a man or male-dominated society, for example.

Defined, notes that feminism is:

...the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men

This poem gives me to believe that a man is involved and a woman hurt:

Becoming a man means leaving

someone, or something—

The poem is entitled, "Amnesia," which along with the following lines, indicates that the speaker is hurt and trying hard to forget:

I almost trust myself to know

when we're getting to that scene—

call it the snow-scene in Citizen Kane:

the mother handing over her son

The trust the speaker is trying to develop within herself is a battle against memories of separation—she gives us the image of a boy leaving his mother. My first inclination when reading this poem was that the woman's father had left when she was young. However, with the lines mentioned above, and the speaker's reference to memories ("a picture of the past") and growing up ("the putting-away of a childish thing"), the poem could refer to a son leaving his mother. In the movie Citizen Kane, the main character dies looking at a snow-globe, trying to capture the past—a vision of his home—obscured by the falling snow inside the globe: the past is hidden from him. It also points out that the one left behind is also trying to see the one lost, looking out through that same snow, having been "left behind."

If this poem were about feminism, it would criticize some kind of male behavior against a woman because she is a woman: inferior in some way. The sense I get in this poem is not inequality, but a loss of love—of being left behind—which is what Kane experiences in a way, when he is sent away. The result still speaks of loneliness, and that is what I sense here: it has to do with a loss of someone loved who has gone away.

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