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The Victims

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by

Amber Jones

on 18 November 2013

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Transcript of The Victims

The Victims
The Victims
By Sharon Olds
When Mother divorced you, we were glad. She took it and
took it in silence, all those years and then
kicked you out, suddenly, and her
kids loved it. Then you were fired, and we
grinned inside, the way people grinned when
Nixon's helicopter lifted off the South
Lawn for the last time. We were tickled
to think of your office taken away,
your secretaries taken away,
your lunches with three double bourbons,
your pencils, your reams of paper. Would they take your
suits back, too, those dark
carcasses hung in your closet, and the black
noses of your shoes with their large pores?
She had taught us to take it, to hate you and take it
until we pricked with her for your
annihilation, Father. Now I
pass the bums in doorways, the white
slugs of their bodies gleaming through slits in their
suits of compressed silt, the stained
flippers of their hands, the underwater
fire of their eyes, ships gone down with the
lanterns lit, and I wonder who took it and
took it from them in silence until they had
given it all away and had nothing
left but this.
"When Mother divorced you, we were glad. She took it and
took it in silence, all those years and then
kicked you out, suddenly, and her
kids loved it. "
"Then you were fired, and we
grinned inside, the way people grinned when
Nixon's helicopter lifted off the South
Lawn for the last time."
The family is so bitter towards the father that when he was fired, they were happy. When the father was fired, Old uses a simile to Nixon. Nixon, the father of the country at the time, and the father of the poem, head of a nation and head of a household both had to leave due to the failure of fulfilling their duties.
Lines 7-11
"We were tickled
to think of your office taken away,
your secretaries taken away,
your lunches with three double bourbons,
your pencils, your reams of paper."
Lines 11-14
"Would they take your
suits back, too, those dark
carcasses hung in your closet, and the black
noses of your shoes with their large pores."

Lines 1-4
The speaker of the poem is very upset with the father.
"We" represents the other family members, possibly other siblings who shared similar disdain toward the father. Line 2 refers to abuse endured by the mother, whether it be physical, verbal or mental. This point in the poem the child is looking back on that time when mother became fed up and finally kicked father out of the house. The kids were happy and loved it.

Lines 4-7
The poem comments on the father's job which leaves the reader to believe that the father was possibly a workaholic and was never home to spend time with his family. The importance of the line "secretaries taken away" might also imply that the father had extra martial affairs with these secretaries. "lunches with three double bourbons" gives the reader the impression that the father was living a luxurious lifestyle consumed with expensive cocktail lunches and forgetting the about his neglecting his family.
The speaker uses the metaphor "dark carcasses hung in your closet" to represent the secrets that the father hide. References to dark carcasses in the closet evoke the connotation of skeletons in the closet. She only remembers her father's identity as being correlated to suits and business attire.
Lines 14-16
"She had taught us to take it, to hate you and take it
until we pricked with her for your
annihilation, Father"
The mother of the family is basically out to destroy the father's image. After years and years of abuse from the father, the mother has convinced the children to endure and hate the father like she does. This is where the tone shifts, because the speaker becomes somewhat regretful for how they treated their father, yet blames it on the mother.
Lines 16-22
"Now I pass the bums in doorways, the white
slugs of their bodies gleaming through slits in their
suits of compressed silt, the stained
flippers of their hands, the underwater
fire of their eyes, ships gone down with the lanterns lit."
The poem shifts from past tense to present tense at this point. She compares her father to bums on the street because they are looked upon by society as worthless and no one cares for them. The bums are also a metaphor to highlight that the father lost everything. Ships gone down with the lanterns lit implies that the father's demise was unannounced since the mother kicked him out suddenly.Words like flippers, underwater, ships sinking capture a feeling of drowning. This could be used to symbolize that Father drowned in his own self destructive tendencies.
Lines 22- End
"and I wonder who took it and
took it from them in silence until they had
given it all away and had nothing
left but this'

At this point in the poem, the speaker begins to ponder the circumstances of the bums in the hallway and how they got that way. She begins to think that it was her
father and those like him who actually lost out, victimized by their own bad behavior.
The speaker of the poem, now away from her mother’s bitterness, ends the
poem seeing how many people were “The Victims” of this bad situation.
Metaphorical Representations
Briefcase
: The briefcase represents what the children thought of their father. He was a workaholic therefore his identify was correlated to his work briefcase and his suits.
Silhouette:
The silhouette of the man represents our father. He is all black and lacks facial features because we did not know who he was because he was always at work.
All black:
Growing up we did not know our father much, so similarly to him we are dressed in black. Because he was estranged, apart of us is missing also. We do not truly know who we are. Divorce affects everyone not just the parents who are separating. A child's upbringing greatly effects their entire life, and the absent of a father especially in adolescent years alters a person’s life forever.

Summary
Divorce is very common in our society today. This poem gives the point of view from the child. Sharon Olds does this to highlight how difficult divorce is from the people effected by it. During a divorce, everyone is a victim. The children especially are generally being deprived from a parent.
Full transcript