Barbie Doll Questions and Answers
by Marge Piercy

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Can someone help me identify some literary devices from the poem "Barbie Doll" by Marge Piercy?

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Wallace Field eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The poem also makes use of a literary device called synecdoche, the substitution of a part for the whole.  Despite the fact that this woman is intelligent and strong and capable and healthy, all anyone around her can see is "a fat nose on thick legs" (line 11).  Obviously, when she walks into a room, people don't just see a big nose on top of big legs: they see a whole person.  But because they focus so much on her nose and legs, despite all of her other valuable and important qualities, she feels as though this is all she is.  Her two parts, nose and legs, replace her whole self in this line in order to emphasize that this is how society makes her feel: that only her physical attributes are important, and that hers are radically flawed.

In the end, the poem's irony is what makes us feel like we've been punched in the gut. 

In the casket displayed on satin she lay
with the undertaker's cosmetics painted on,
a turned-up putty nose,
dressed in a pink and white nightie.
Doesn't she look...

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