One of the predominant themes examined throughout this poem is a mother's possessive relationship to her adolescent daughter. Sharon Olds begins the poem by writing, "My daughter---as if I owned her." Immediately, the audience is presented with a mother's possessive view of her daughter. The woman's daughter is still a child and the mother views her daughter as her possession. Also, Olds's use of the possessive pronoun "my" is significant throughout the poem and directly relates to its title. The speaker still views her daughter as part of her body, even though she realizes that she must begin thinking differently about her. Throughout the poem, Olds presents an image of a mother recognizing her daughter's impending rebellious nature. The daughter's fiery eyes suggest her inner thoughts of rebellion. The mother still views her daughter as her possession, which will soon change as her daughter gets older.
The title of the poem "The Possessive" relates directly to its themes. In this piece Olds explores the emotions of a mother who must allow a daughter to grow up. Part of what that involves is the mother shifting how she thinks of the daughter, and, specifically, in how possessive she is of her daughter. At one point she thinks, " My body. My daughter. I’ll have to find another word." This shows how motherhood blurs with affection. Is the daughter hers like her body—something to be possessed forever, something that she controls completely? Or is the "my" in "my daughter" fundamentally different?
what is the significant human experience in the story?