What meanings could the word "fair" have in "Same Song" by Pat Mora?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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As with much in way of poetry, there can be different approaches offered in the analysis of word choice in the poem.  I like the idea that "fair" can reflect to a state of physical and emotional being in the world that the child endures.  The fact that the speaker, presumably Mora, articulates this ritual that the girl endures is physical based can help to bring out to what the "fair" alludes.  The girl is obsessed with placing her eye shadow and blush on her face.  This makeup basic state of early morning being can reflect how there is a greater desire to be "fair" from a physical point of view.  In this, "not fair" could be reflective of the desire to be lighter skinned or more socially acceptable.  Perhaps, the use of "fair" is in accordance to a social construction of beauty where "fair" is reflective of skin tone and skin color, to which ends the makeup helps to achieve.  There can also be a emotional condition to which "fair" can be in reference.  The child must awake early in the morning to put makeup on her face and to make herself more beautiful while others, most notably her brother, sleeps.  The "not fair" could refer to the struggle that she must endure while others do not have to do this.  In order to be deemed as beautiful or socially acceptable, the girl must endure this condition while others don't.  It could be in this light where such an activity is one in which she stares in the mirror and says, "Not fair."  All the work she must put forth is to be done for something that might not directly benefit her and could be towards a realm that she most certainly did not create.  This is where such a being could be seen as "not fair."

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