Peso Ancestral Analisis

Explain the poem "Peso Ancestral" by Alfonsina Storni.

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The poem "Peso Ancestral" illustrates how Argentinian men carry the burdens passed on from one generation to the next by suppressing their negative emotions and never crying. When the narrator finally tastes her tears, she gets a glimpse into the pain that men in society experience on a daily basis and cannot bear their burden.

In the first stanza, the speaker mentions that her grandfather and father never cried. She also compares the men in her family to steel. In the second stanza, the speaker describes how she began to cry when she was told about the burdens the men in her family suffer from every day. When she cries, tears flow down her face and into her mouth. The speaker compares the tears to poison as she swallows them. In the third stanza, the speaker laments to the poor women who understand the generational burdens and centuries of pain that she tastes by swallowing her tears.

Essentially, Alfonsina Storni is commenting on the cultural differences between Argentinian men and women. In Argentina, emotional and psychological burdens are passed down from generation to generation and repressed by the males in each family. Men are perceived as being strong and reserved in their society and never weep. The suppression painful emotions from one generation to the next increases exponentially over time, and the men are forced to carry their family's burdens. When the speaker cries, she says that she cannot bear the pain, which reveals that women in Argentina seldom experience this burden that society places on men.

literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Alfonsina Storni was an Argentine poet. Her poetry was confessional in style, given her poems were written about her own life.

"Peso Ancestral" is a poem which speaks to the traditional passing down of knowledge from one generation to the next. The speaker is telling of a time where the speaker was told about the strength of the men in the family. The men of the family did not cry. Men were supposed to be strong--like steel.

The speaker, in the second stanza, recalls a time where a tear had fallen. The tear, instead of following the normal path down the face, ends up in the speaker's mouth. Symbolically, this shows both the weakness of the speaker (allowing a tear to fall) and the strength (swallowing the tear).

The final stanza speaks to the weakness of women. Women cry and cannot stand to bear the poison (metaphorical for the weakness of crying) in their mouth (if the tear is swallowed). At the end of the stanza, the speaker states that the weight of the tear is far too much for the soul (given the tear has been swallowed).

Essentially, the poem is one which denotes the differences between men and women. Women are emotional and weak; men are not emotional and strong. Although both may cry, only the men are able to sustain the poison of the tear once swallowed. Women, on the other hand, cannot bear the tear (whether on the outside or inside).

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