What is one similarity between the speaker in "Young" by Anne Sexton and the narrator of "Eleven" by Sandra Cisneros?

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I assume you’re referring to the poem “Young” by Anne Sexton and “Eleven” by Sandra Cisneros. 

It can be difficult to find any similarities between the narrator of “Eleven” and the speaker in “Young” on the first read.  While in “Eleven” Rachel sees herself as a conglomeration of all the years of her life – as eleven, but “also ten, and nine, and eight, and seven, and six, and five, and four, and three, and two, and one,”  Anne Sexton in “Young” recalls a much less specified time in her childhood, possibly her entire childhood wrapped up in this eternal summer world she describes in the poem.  And her description is peaceful and nostalgic, while Rachel’s story instead encompasses the pain of having all those young, immature years nested inside of her; the incongruity of being right but powerless because of her age, and the embarrassment of being eleven years old and yet still crying like a three-year-old in front of the whole class.  As we read Rachel’s story she is living it; as we read Sexton’s poem, it is clearly a memory.

One similarity, perhaps, is the precocity and reflective nature of the two young girls; Rachel clearly has a philosophy on growing older and is able to extricate her own consciousness from the act of living in order to be able to analyze the act and its progress, which can be a challenge for many young children.  Sexton notes that she “told the stars my questions.”  She has questions, and paints them in a reflective, earnest light, telling them to the “wise stars” and yet being wise enough herself not to ask – not to expect any response.

One could also assume they are similar in their aloneness, though the nature of this state is different for both of them.  While Sexton is alone and content, presumably by her own devices, happy to have her contemplations be her company, Rachel is isolated by others as being a culprit – they all assume the sweater belongs to her – and is unable to defend herself.  In either circumstance, however, this lonesomeness makes the piece itself possible, and is the catalyst for the story being told.

One last, quick option:  in both pieces the girls’ parents are described in a loving, nurturing light, one could argue literally so in the case of “Young.”  So whatever the reason for their isolation and whatever the source and content of their reflections, they know that home is their anchor and their parents conjurors of a calm sea. 

And, as always with poetry, these analyses are subjective – don’t see them as 100% anything – right, wrong, complete.  There’s always more to see and different angles from which to see it.

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