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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

The Wodwo, or The Narrator

"Wodwo" is not a poem that contains a particularly large number of characters. That said, there is certainly a central character throughout the poem: the narrator of the poem itself. The speaker does not know who or what he is. Consequently, readers do not know much about the speaker of the poem either. The speaker lets readers know from the very first line that he is still searching for what he is when he asks "What am I?". Despite his quest to discover himself, it is implied that the narrator is the Wodwo.

The narrating Wodwo is by far the most central character in the entire poem. He, she, they, or it is central to the entire poem, and that is evidenced by the number of times that "I" is used throughout. The narrator is entirely focused on himself throughout. Perhaps it is possible to call the narrator narcissistic, but it is hard to accuse one of narcissism when one doesn't have a strong sense of self. An interesting contrast can be drawn between the speaker of "Wodwo" and the speaker of Whitman's "Song of Myself." In the latter poem, the speaker is much more self-assured about who he is, and he celebrates that in a manner that aligns more closely with what we could traditionally consider narcissism.

In "Wodwo," the speaker does not know who he is; therefore, he struggles to celebrate a lot of things about himself. What the narrator does instead is celebrate his individuality. As he learns more about himself, his abilities, and his surroundings, he becomes much more self-assured in his ability to do the things that he desires to do.

I can go anywhere

I seem to have been given the freedom

of this place

The narrator is a part of the natural world around him, but he is not beholden to anybody else. There is also a strong sense of persistence in his attitude. The speaker is filled with question after question, and it is certainly a possibility that he feels alone in the world:

do I fit in their world? I seem

separate from the ground and not rooted but dropped

out of nothing casually I’ve no threads

fastening me to anything

Fortunately, the speaker doesn't wallow in depression at the unknown and his uniqueness. Rather, he keeps searching, which conveys a spirit of curiosity and perseverance: he is simply not willing to give up searching.

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