In Spoon River Anthology, what does Aner Clute mean by "lead the life"?
While I agree with the previous Educator's analysis, I'll offer the additional possibility of reading Aner Clute as a kept woman—that is, a woman who attaches herself to wealthy men and offers them her company. One could argue that this is still a form of prostitution, though more selective, because there's still an exchange of sex and money.
Aner leads an itinerant lifestyle, but what remains the same in each place is the curiosity about how she became a woman who lives off of men:
OVER and over they used to ask me,
While buying the wine or the beer,
In Peoria first, and later in Chicago,
Denver, Frisco, New York, wherever I lived,
How I happened to lead the life,
And what was the start of it.
What is interesting is that Aner Clute responds in the way that men expect:
Well, I told them a silk dress,
And a promise of marriage from a rich man—
(It was Lucius Atherton).
However, her real reason for becoming a...
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