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Melissa Doherty Professor Gregory EN-102 noon class November 2000 The Ties that Bind Fear anxiety and shame these are just a few of the emotions instilled upon the innocent children and mother in Suzanne E Bergers poem titled The Meal These emotions have been brought forth from an abusive and domineering father with an insatiable need for perfection My personal interpretations of the underlying messages found throughout the poem have led me to draw the above conclusions There are only two lines in the poem that directly refer to the mother Despite this lack of reference the lines create a very powerful image to me that she is a victim of abuse The two lines they are waiting for the mother to straighten her lipstick11749 and her mouth uneven as a torn hibiscus23750 suggest to me that she had just been slapped across the face resulting in her lipstick being smudged or maybe a bloody lip I then picture her daintily wiping away any evidence of the blow to her face and forcing a smile as if to say this isnt happening everything is perfect The theme of abuse seems to be even more prevalent towards the children They are unnaturally neat and scrubbed as if they know that presenting themselves as anything less will set their father off into a violent rage One gets the idea that if the girls hadnt braided and rebraided their hair and tied ribbons without a single mistake6and 7 749 or if the young boy hadnt replaced his coin collection with absolute perfection the consequences would be grim Their fear of angering their father is also noticed in their actions during dinner their forks move across their plates without scraping they wait for the milk and gravy14 and 15 750 In normal households dinner is a noisy festive event with the tinkling of glassware animated conversations and a general mood of happiness This is not the case at
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