Piercy’s Barbie Doll tells the short life story of a specific girl. How does this poem help to illustrate or dramatize some of the ideas we find in A Work of Artifice?

The bounding of the feet, crippled brain, and the hair in curlers mentioned in the poem A Work of Artifice are all things that women do to look good. The bounding of the feet is an old Chinese custom because small feet were considered beautiful. Some girls pretend to act ditzy, or having a cripple brain, because they think men will like them better if they are that way. Many women curl their hair to be more beautiful. All of these things relate to the poem Barbie Doll because the girl in the poem is trying to achieve the perfect looks because someone once told her she had a big nose and fat legs.

Barbie Doll exemplifies some of the concepts that we see in A Work of Artifice because like the girl in Barbie Doll the bonsai tree in A Work of Artifice is always trying to achieve the perfect look or shape. The gardener is always tending to the bonsai tree each day to make sure that it is pruned properly and that it is only 9 inches tall. The girl in Barbie Doll tried to achieve her perfect look by “cutting off her nose and her legs” and offering them up. The gardener in A Work of Artifice is the one that makes the choice for the tree to be cut up and offered up.

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Both of these poems have the deeper meaning of a woman’s beauty behind it. Marge Piercy uses bonsai as a metaphor for what she clearly states in her other poem Barbie Doll. She is saying that women should learn to accept and love who they are and what they have and not to worry about what others say. She is also stating that women can be anything that they would like and that times have changed.

“It is your nature

to be small and cozy,

domestic and weak;”

~ A Work of Artifice

Women no longer have to be small and cozy or domestic and weak, they are now able to be leaders and powerful no matter what their size, color, or beauty. The bonsai is Marge Piercy’s symbol of women in today’s world and is telling them to allow themselves to become something wonderful and to not be stunted in their growth; to allow themselves to grow taller than nine inches.


#4. Three poems by Langston Huges – “Aunt Sue’s Stories”, “I,Too”, and “Mother to Son” – all talk about pathways or figurative journeys from the past to the present and future. What human qualities do these poems suggest are necessary to complete these journeys successfully?

To get through life when it throws you curve balls and gives you a hard time you need to have a perseverance and determination. All three of these poems show someone who is trying to make it through life, even though life has handed them some things that are hard to deal with. The three characters in these poems are teaching others through their own personal experiences that you cannot give up. Through their stories they are showing others that it is important to believe in yourself and that if you are strong-minded you can conquer anything that comes your way in life.

For example from the poem Aunt Sue’s Stories, a woman if telling her nephew about her experiences as a slave and watching other slaves. Her moral to the story for her nephew is to not give up and that along with that he should respect his elders who didn’t give up and because of them he is living a better life.

In the poem I, Too a slave is sent to the kitchen to eat every time company comes over. When he says, “Tomorrow, I’ll be at the table” he is showing that he has determination and will be at that table someday. Eventually he will be accepted and then when that time comes the people at the table will realize what they have been missing all along.

Finally in the poem Mother to Son, Langston Hughes is showing a mother telling her son about the hardships in life she has encountered and how he shouldn’t give up. Even though her path through life “ain’t been no crystal stair” she has endured all the splinters and torn up boards and taken them one step at a time. She used good imagery throughout this last piece because the crystal stair is something that is smooth and valuable where as splinters and torn up boards are things that are rough, painful, and useless. This mother worked hard to get where she is today and is showing her son that through it all she stuck it out and persevered.

All that it takes for someone to get through life is a positive attitude and a strong personality that forces them to be determined to get through the troublesome times. Eventually everything that is wrong or bad will work itself out just at the three characters in the Langston Hughes poems showed.


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