How are the people or characters represented in the poem Smalltown Dance by Judith Wright? How are we positioned to see these people or characters?

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durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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The poem Smalltown Dance by Judith Wright serves to conflict with a modern belief in equality between men and women. The characters- female - are basically trapped in their existence and are represented as such. They accept " the limit of opportunity" and recall days when, as children the chance to  "run,run!" was foremost in their minds. But it is just a game of "Out of Sight," whether it is for children whom they watch now or for themselves.

It is a stereotypical image and the fact that it is centered on the women doing the laundry - an age old stereotype- allows readers to understand the women's predicament, sympathize with it and perhaps even recognize it in themselves; whether readers are like the women, thinking of "those beckoning roads to some impossible world," or a man who is unwittingly contributing to the ongoing cycle.

Society's values and norms are being questioned here but the women feel powerless to do anything. Even when they try, they "don't travel far" because it seems that, even beyond their "smalltown" the "smalltown dance" is just as evident so the only thing to do is to "close the cupboard door." 

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