Seminararbeiten  |  Anglistik/Amerikanistik


Auf dieser Seite findet Ihr einige meiner Arbeiten aus den letzten Jahren! Seminararbeiten aus Anglistik / Amerikanistik: ( 2005 - 2007)

LIFE IS BITCH / Diplomarbeit






The Relevance of Motherhood in the Context of Female Identity in
The Color Purple, The Edible Woman and The Awakening

Mag. Sarah Marisa Gruber

When looking at different takes on motherhood and maternity

The Edible Woman (1969) by Margaret Atwood and The Awakening (1899) by Kate Chopin one might assume to find more differences than similarities, since decades have passed between each of the narrative settings.
As a matter of fact, all three novels deal with the question of motherhood in terms of freedom, as a quest against prescripted gender roles and the dichotomy of biological destiny versus authentic choice. Whereas in The Edible Woman and The Awakening the restraints of maternity are the focal point, in The Color Purple motherhood as privilege in a white supremacist society is discussed. The historical setting of Celie´s story is the Jim Crow era in the Rural South. Within white society, men were expected to control their families and especially their women. Black culture was impaired by this attitude.

However, black men were not in control of their own destinies and had to suffer from being under supremacist control themselves. Their frustration was sometimes unleashed upon their families, as depicted in The Color Purple. Still, Alice Walker´s novel is not primary about racist oppression. It is a story about sexism and the struggle of an individual for her own choices and the freedom to give love in a society that mediates her inferiority. This inferiority is implemented into Celie´s psyche ab initio. Her father and Mr..... teach her that being a woman means to be submissive.


The reader learns, along with Celie, already in the introductory chapters that women are totally at the mercy of men, alternately used for sex and work.

Mr.... had only married Celie because she was a good worker and should take care of his children. "She good with children"  (Walker: 11) says Alphonso to promote his daughter. The irony is, that Celie is supposedly good with children because she cared for her own babies tenderly. " My heart say she mine. [...]  embroder Olivia in the seat of all her daidies. I embrody lot of little stars and flowers too [...] He took the daidies when he took her"(13). It is highly important that Celie has tender feelings for her children, although they are a product of rape.

She does not project her feelings of hatred upon them, but would nourish them with her motherly love if her cruel stepfather had not taken them away from her. By doing so, he even denies her to have a stereotypically female role // being a mother: "I got breasts full of milk running down myself" (Walker: 3), says Celie in her own words and expresses the loss of what should be naturally hers: the choice to love and care for her children. Being a mother would enhance her status, as it does within the Olinka tribe. In their system, a woman can strive only to be the mother of man´s children ("being the wife of the chief is as high as they can think ", Walker: 157). Significantly, this system reminds Nettie of home and their Pa (162); America and the Rural South.

The importance of motherhood for an encompassing female identity is outlined in Corrine s fears that her entire identity is belittled if her role as mother and wife is shared by Nettie; and thus she admits that if a black woman is neither somebodies wife nor mother she is nothing. In The Color Purple an ambivalent view on motherhood is presented: it is shown that love for one´s children can transcend hate (Alphonso Celie) and can be a privilege. It is also shown that this love is something exclusive, and does not imply an altogether altruistic nature. Mr...s children do not accept Celie as their new mother and she tends to them without heart. Similarly the relationship between Sofia and Eleanor Jane is not based on mutual affection but enforced by historical conditions (Jim Crow!). In The Color Purple Celie and Sofia fight for the freedom to love their own children, and can only be finally themselves when being united with them in the end of the novel.

The issues of love and freedom is approached very differently in The Awakening and The Edible Woman.

In both novels motherhood and freedom seem to be related on contradictory terms; you cannot have both

The Awakening was published in 1899,

At the turn of the century in post Civil War Southern America. It was the period of the first outspoken suffragists who began questioning marriage and motherhood as sole fulfillment in women´s lives. The story is about Edna´s personal struggle to live her life beyond the definition of mother and wife. The essence of the story is captured in the conversation between Edna and the doctor in Chapter XXXVIII :

I am not going to be forced into doing things. [...] Nobody has any right except children, perhaps and even then it seems to me or it did seem

The trouble is, [...] that youth is given to illusions. It seems to be a provision of Nature; a decoy to secure mothers for the race. And Nature takes no account of moral consequences, or arbitrary conditions which we create, and which we feel obliged to maintain at any costs, (Walker: 111).ann.

The problem are not the children, but the arbitrary conditions created by society. For Edna, choice means freedom. But at the turn of the century rigid gender roles have prescribed who she is supposed to be from childhood on. The ideal is introduced early in the novel If it was not a mother s place to look after the children, whose on earth was it? (Chopin: 5). The ideal is being a mother-woman,


Fluttering about with extended, protecting wings when any harm, real or imaginary, threatened their precious brood. They were women who idolized their children, worshipped their husbands, and esteemed it a holy privilege to efface themselves as individuals and grow wings as ministering angels (Chopin: 8).

Edna does in fact love her children, but she does not always feel motherly.

She was fond of her children in an uneven, impulsive way.She would sometimes gather them passionately to her heart, she would sometimes forget them. [Their absence] seemed to free her from a responsibility which she had blindly assumed and for which Fate had not fitted her, (Chopin: 18).

The various methods for modulating the strength of utterances are chosen according to the degree of familiarity, respect, relative social roles of the interactants, and the impact that the contents of the act might have on the interlocutors.


Edna has blindly assumed maternity; she never had the chance to make an authentic choice. They were part of her life, but they need not have thought that they could posess her, body and soul,(Chopin: 116 Dover Edition).

Edna could probably truly love her children if maternity would have been her choice instead of a social imperative.

Just as Sofia and Celie in The Color Purple, Edna cannot be forced into loving somebody, -expressed in her desperate statement: I would give my life for my children; but I wouldn t give myself (Chopin: 47).

The question of authenticity and choice is also motif in The Edible Woman. The cultural attitude is that of the early 1960s, when the Women´s Liberation Movement had it´s renaissance and the attitude towards women and the institution of marriage was in a process of change once again. The prevelant norm is presented to the reader in the form of Clara, a tall frail girl (Atwood: 36) and embodiment of femininity who marries early and turns into a shapeless boa constrictor that has swallowed a watermelon (Atwood: 31). Clara aborts College, marries and is constantly pregnant.


She lives in exile (Atwood: 32), far away from the center of the town because her family needed space. This exile is also a metaphorical exile that women in the early 1960s were supposed to take on naturally once they settle for a husband and children.

It was considered logical that education and career can only be a temporary engagement and the domestic sphere would be a natural final step. The exile is mirrored in the scene when Marian visits Clara in the hospital, where the protagonist feels as if Clara was cut off from her through a glass wall, and she has to shout so her friend could hear her. I keep thinking I ll get post-puerperal depression [..] but I never seem to; I save that till I have to get up and go home. It s so nice to just lie here! (Atwood: 129).

What depresses Clara - and Marian - is not maternity and it s responsibilities, but the finality it denotes.

Clara has transformed from a character, a personality into something form- and shapeless that is first and foremost passive. How can she stand it? [...] She just lies there and that man does all the work. She lets herself be treated like a thing! (Atwood: 39) says Ainsley in the beginning of the novel and gives voice to the Women s Liberation Movement that protested against motherhood as final biological destiny. It must be very tiresome lying around like that all day. Marian felt as if she had escaped, from a culvert or cave. She was glad she wasn t Clara, (Atwood: 131). Tiresome describes the effort that goes along with suppressing one s personality once you take on the function of being a mother. Marian struggles not to lose her identity in an affluent society that feeds her images of how and who a woman is supposed to be, a society in which pregnancy seems to be the ending of one´s true self and the beginning of a shapeless identity, a thing, living for the sole purpose of nurturing one s offsprings.

The statement by Marian s boss in the very first chapter accents this equivalence between societal erasure and pregnancy: I m afraid Mrs. Dodge in Kamloops will have to be removed. She s pregnant (24),.

What unites Marian and Edna from The Awakening is the quest to live one s life beyond definitions: to be somebody instead of being a tool for something. Marian introduces this crisis in her own words: It wasn t only the feeling of being subject to rules I had no interest in and no part in making: you get adjusted to that at school, (Atwood: 21). School should be read as societies factory for normative behavior, a place that installs the rights and wrongs into your head. Marian s subtle rebellion is not against maternity per se, it´s a rebellion against being subject to rules one has no interest in and no part in making.

Finally, it can be said that the protagonists in The Color Purple, The Awakening and The Edible Women

have more in common than contemporary feminists would wish: Decades seem to have passed tracklessly and women have been and still are fighting for the right to make authentic choices and raise their voice in a society that categorizes our feelings and behaviors from early age on into right and wrong.

"Let me be"  is the common message that Celie, Edna and Marian want us to hear.




Mag. Sarah Marisa Gruber

1. Introduction

The family circle normally provides the first speech models for infants.
Within a few years it is replaced by a more significant one - the circle of friends.In the most common social situations the disparity between family and friends as linguistic influences is inconsequental because family and friends are natives of the same speech community.
At the age of four or five children carry markers of zheir elders´speech and then comes the first exposure to a peer group, for instance kindergarten.
The social and linguistical adjustment mostly takes place naturally and very rapidly. This stage should be seen as sociolinguistic juncture; from this point on we can ask ourselves: What is the difference between the language of the elderly and adolescent language and why does it differ?

Not all possible causes can be looked at in this paper, but at least a range of causes that seem to be from significant relevance will be assessed.
This paper deals with three proposed sociolinguistic causes

· Foreign influence
· Fashion
· Social Need

and analyse their effect on the categories
· Sound
· Grammar
· Vocabulary


2. Reasons for Language differences

2.1 Foreign influence

The view that no language is better than another runs counter to the thinking of many people. It might be claimed that there are things you can say in French which English is just incapable of expressing. Views of this kind have no basis in fact, still it is true that languages differ, at least in what they have to say.
If someone is speaking German you have to specify whether a friend is male or female, whether it´s a companion or somebody to love. We can say that languages differ in term of what they can say in single words.
These are all important factors if it is taken into consideration that nowerdays children in school learn two, three or even more foreign languages. The slight nuances a word might have in Spanish or French, which its Enghish counterpart might lack, will also be recognised by teenagers and due to this taken over into their active vocabulary. Spanish swear word, for instance, are very popular among adolescents. It is also a fact that some languages have more fully developed vocabularies on some topic than other languages do, thinking of English and computer terminology or French cuisine. Teenagers tend to be cosmopolitans these days.

Very good examples of sources for new word-creations and syntax variations are music and sports. Both souces are also strongly connected with fashion.
Without regard which nationality a sportsman or a musician belongs to his/her performance is of public interest.
Especially musicians do not dwell on the correct usuage of grammar in their songs and often even new words are introduced.
Special groups of adolescents introduce their own jargon, which is also an important factor of in-group membership and identification. (see page )

Good examples for the intrusion of non-standard elements in music and sports are Hip Hop vocabulary and skater expressions.
Hip Hop singers were originally users of Black Vernacular English. BVE has distinctive features which clearly differ from Standard English, such as two forms of ´to b`. One of them is inflicted and the other is not. ("He be eatin´")
Some forms of BVE have a differently accepted meaning than Standard English, e.g. the verb ´come`.
Singers like Missy Elliot are famous all over the world and definitely can have an influence on their fans´use of language.
It is just the same with sports like skateboarding, snowboarding or blading.
Almost every teenager knows what ´baggy-style`looks like and if something is `phat`,- that´s good! If a teen invites his friends for some SevenEighties`` he wants to practise and if he wants to ´speedin´up`he wants to go out.
Parents would have great difficulties decoding what theit offspring is up to, simply because they are not en vogue or in anymore.


2.2 Fashion and the modern world

Labov sees the acquisition of Standard English as a process of aculturation in which adolescent linguistic behaviour becomes more similar to the pattern of adult community. (Labov 1964: 153) He divides this development into six stages:

1. Acquisition of the basic grammar under parental influence
2. Acquisition of the vernacular under the influence of peers
3. Development of social perception
4. Development of stylistic variation
5. Ability to maintain the consistent standard
6. Acquisition of the full range

This list should be extended since nowadays more than ever before rhetorical skills are of great importace in terms of jobs and career.
In order to be a accepted member of society adolescents have to have a vocabulary that includes specific terminology concerning computer technology, new media, basic skills in foreign languages, etc.
These are relatively new requirements since the world became a pretty small place, and flexibility concerning changing one´s job or moving house is inevitable if you want to keep up with life and fashion.

- Basic vocabulary provides us with the ability
to communicate with people of our speech community
- Terminology for work
- Vocabulary for interests (music, sports,..)
- Informal vocabulary (nicknames, swearwords, insider jokes,…)
Basic data will not be forgotten
1, 2, 3,etc. are exchangable and if they use importane or actuality can be forgotten.


2.3 Social need

2.3.1 Language and social bounderies

In fact, there is no remarkable decrease in the mutual understanding of grandchildren and their grandparents. There is no breakdown in communication because there is a vivid exchange in every day life, and communication facilities
Such as TV, radio and telephone don´t let older people lose touch with the modern world and its changing language and vice versa: Teenagers who come from a big family and have stable relationships to their parents and other adults such as teachers, speak more eloquently and have a larger active and passive vocabulary at their disposal.
In school language takes on its social function as a source of identification. (see Identification) Some children may find the teachers language strange in some way and come to resent the social barriere between them that the linguistic differences symbolise. They may find a teachers dialect snobbish or posh and react accordingly by behaving against the rules and by using ´ wrong´ grammar, ´slang vocab´or ´wrong´pronunciation on purpose. "The only thing one can do is to reduce the resentment and hope that a good relationship with the child will minimise the effects of its attitude". (cf. Trudgill Accent, Dialect and the school: 59-61) A primary reason for the great chasm between adolescents and adults lies in the sociolect that teenagers use to communicate. This unique language intimidates adults, just as advanced vocabulary intimidates younger people. Teenage Slang is the most frequently observed difference between age groups in the USA and Britain. (see Vocabulary)

2.3.2 Identification

Even within groups of the same social class differences can be found which seem to correlate with factors such as the age of speakers: Speech is a behavioural characterisic which shows age-grading. Different roles are assigned to different age groups through the sspecifics of age-grading, because there are behavioural patterns that are considered appropriate for those stages.
It is important that children begin to develop social independence from their parents. During this stage, adolescence, language plays a major role. The use of special words, the restriction of correct grammar, etc indicate in-group membership and express a certain rebellion against the norms set by authorities.
Low-prestige varieties spoken by teenagers serve therefore as a sharp distinction between their own world and the parental one,- it is a code, used and understood by people their age!


3. Language differences according to age

3.1 Sounds

A person´s speech is such a reliable indicator of age that we can usually guess the age of telephone callers immediately.
The articulatory organs and the larynx are subject to wear and tear, and the timing of muscular activities and respiratory activities is subject to slippage.
These things happen gradually but are even for somebody without special training easy to notice.

3.1.1 Creakiness in voice

One of the indicators of age is progressive creakiness in voice quality. It is the result of speaking with the vocal cords closed except in the auterior part, where they vibrate slowly. Thze progressive creakiness of aging voices is the result of changes in muscle tone. In advanced old age, when the speech rate slows, the voice quality often becomes tremulous.

3.1.2 pitch

Another of the primary indicators of age in speech is pitch. Pitch is produced by the rate of vibration of the vocal cords, measured in cycles per second or Herz (Hz). The average pitch of a persons voice is called the fundamental frequency (f ) For both sexes the f decreases with age in the first two decades until adulthood. (Chambers 1995: 149-153)


3.1.3 intonation


Some regional Enghlish accents use a high rising tone at the end of statements, instead of a falling tone. Teenagers tend to use a rising tone at the end of sentences ten times more often than people over 20. Why pronouncing a statement as if it was a question?
One hypothesis existing concerning this question suggests that the rising tone is preferred by the less powerful members of society because they are not sure whether what they say is acceptable and approvable. It acts as an unconscious expression of a lack of self-confidence. According to David Crystal a speaker might introduce it for any of several discourse reasons; as a kind up update, to check whether the listener has understood, as a request for empathy or as a sign that the speaker has not yet finised speaking. (Crystal 1987: 249)

3.2 Syntax and Grammar

3.2.1 Usuage of pronouns and prepositions Prepositions

In the Middle Ages Latin was the language used by educated people, and English had a rather low status. In Latin Prepositions could not occur at the end of a sentence and many people began to feel that it should not be done in English either.This feeling survived until recently with the result that the older generation still feels that a grammatical construction like
"I bought a new car which I´m very happy with" is wrong and should rather be changed into "I bought a new car with which I´m very happy".

A second example is the usuage of the ´correct´ pronoun.

It´s me!
It was him that did it!

There are sentences where the pronouns that are normally used as objects of the verb (me, him, her, us, them) occur after forms of the verb ´to be´.

Older people feel rather uncomfortable about such constructions and believe that it is more correct to use the subject forms of pronouns (I, he, she, we, they).

It is I!
It was he who did it!

The grammatical structure of Latin requires that forms of ´be´should be accompanied by subject rather than object pronouns

Of course most English speakers would say ´It´s me!`and this form is more widespread and even accepted in school. But this should be seen as an example of the way values and standards changed and even school grammar adapts to such changes and therefore influences the speech-style of adolescents.
(Trudgill 1983:29-31) Negation

Research has shown that younger informants tended to use multiple negation more frequent than adults.

There´s some milk on the table. Correct negation:
It was good! There isn´t any milk on the table.

Adolescents tend to rather use :
There isn´t no milk on the table. Double negative
It wasn´t no good. Multiple negation

Generally it can be said that people under 18 tended to use this form five times as much as people belonging to the age group 20+. usage of stigmatized forms

During the adolescent years the use of socially stigmatized forms is at its maximum. We can say: The younger the speaker the more the use of stigmatized features. (Trudgill 1983: 31-32) Usage of ´like`

The insertion of a word sch as ´like`allows one to assert opinions without the fearful obligation of stating them directly, which would leave one open to criticism.
Example: ´Like, yesterday, when he, like, called me, he was like,´He, what´s up?`3.3 Vocabulary

3.3.1 Language decay?

Many features of the modern language that we now take for granted and find perfectely acceptable have their roots in teenage ´slang`and were bitterly opposed by critics when they first made an appearance in English. There is no reason to suppose that the same kind of cycle of innovation - resistance - acceptance will not continue to operate in the future.

It is often argued that teenagers nowadays use words and don´t even now about their original meaning anymore, which will lead to a language decay and loss. ( Example: to aggrevate, original meaning: to make more serious; new meaning: to irritate)
It is a fact that words often change their meaning and it is very unrealistic to claim that a particular wor ´really` means something else,- usually an older meaning.
In fact change can also mean growth. If new language is adapted to handle new topics and ideas, in short, to serve a new need. (see Fashion)

3.3.2 Slang

The transition from childhood to adulthod is characteristically accompanied by extremism. Rebellion can be expressed superficially in outer markings such as an unconventional hairdo, clothstyle or by the use of distinctive vocabulary called slang. Slang terms become fashionable and serve as markers of in-group membership, and then quickly become outmoded. Slang terms have a rapid turn-over.
In order to serve their social purpose, these outer markings must fulfil two requirements:

1. They must be extravagant and not tolerated by elders
2. They must be far-out, awesome, the max (maximum)

People in authority are regarded with suspicion and teenage slang always includes derisory terms for them, e.g. ´peeps` for parents.
It is extremely important that these outer markings are approved and shared by other adolescents. Especially verbs of action, adjectives and nouns are lkikely to be exchanged; inspired by teenage fantasies about intoxication, school and music.
In adult language consuming a lot of alcohol is expressed by the little colourful expression ´to get drunk`. There are no ´adult`- words for taking drugs because it is not part of the conventional adult world; so teenagers have to be creative: being baked, blasted, pissed or blitzed are expressions to describe the shape of having consumed something, while getting juiced or fried definitely refer to drugs.
The main feature of teenage slang is evanescence. ( Chambers 1995: 168-172)

4. Conclusion

As already said in the introduction, not all possible causes for a difference in style of speaking, and not all differences can be listed in this paper. Especially if one realises that not only sociolinguistic factors intervene in language acquisition and usage. Generally proposed causes can be devided into the categories of sociolinguistic factors, which are outside the language system, and internal psycholinguistic factors, which reside in the structure of the language and the minds of the speaker. Therefore this paper should simply be seen as a short overwiew of some sociolinguistic factors that might have an effect on the language usuage at the time of adolescence and how this language style differs from the language of the elder.


Dee Brown´s "The gentle tamers - Women of the Old West" and some exemplary women of the West

Mag. Sarah Marisa Gruber

Seminararbeit zum Kulturwissenschaftlichen Seminar Women on/and the American Frontier



Part I

I The sunhat myth

II Dangers everywhere

III Army women

IV Lucky Ladies - real pioneers

V It´s a long hard road…

VI Vain, but not in vain

VII Tights and velvet

Part II

1. Clarine Irene Howard Nochols

2. Esther Hobart McQuigg Slack Morris

3. Calamity Jane



This paper is divided into two parts ; the first one deals with Dee Brown´s "The gentle tamers", and the second one will present three exemplary women of the West who made an huge impact on the lives of women back then and today,- either they served as a rule model for free and independent women or they accomplished political success in terms of women´s rights.

Dee Brown´s "The gentle Tamers" is one of the few books that are dedicated to the topic of women on the American frontier. It is a mixture between a historical report and a humorous description of how life was like for women in the 19th century on the unknown border - the west of northern America.

It is divided into 16 chapters and uses several sources as historical basis, such as excerpts of diaries, newspaper articles and letters, as well as the works of other authors. All in all more than 400 references are given in the book. It can be said that The gentle tamers is a collection of information which should give the reader an overview.

A relatively hard part was to translate the book into English, since the only available copy of it was the German version " Pulverdampf war ihr Parfüm".

The headlines used are translations by myself and it is not guaranteed that they correspond with the original English ones. In part one not each chapter will be covered. Beside the headlines the chapters used are given in brackets. The original chapters 4, 7, 9, 11, 12 and 16 will not be dealt with in particular because their contents would either be a revision of topics already mentioned, or their contents were not really relevant to the basic topic "Women on the frontier".

Part I: Dee Brown s the gentle Tamers - Women of the Old West A Summary

I. The sunhat myth (chapter 1)

When the first attempt to settle the West in the 1840´s was made, almost no women participated. Among the biggest track that went westwards to the pacific coast in 1841 there was only one single woman. On a similarly big track that went three years later were only two. On the first seajourneys - 1848-1849 - around Kap Hoorn to the Californian goldmines there were no women on board; but a few thousand came with their husbands and fathers on wagons and horses in the year 1849. In this year approximately 10 per cent of the migrants were female, all in all 5 000 women, 2500 children and 42 500 men.

Ten years later, at the foundation of the city Denver, the number of women had not increased very much: Five of the 1000 inhabitants were female. A culturally interesting fact is that current morals and customs mostly did not survive the journey. Settlers came from England, Ireland, Poland, Germany,- basically from everywhere across Europe where the Industrial Revolution was at its top. Still, women had few rights and were caged in Christian and Biedermeier traditions concerning fashion, manners and rules. They were raised to become dedicated wives, mothers and housekeepers.

On such a journey to the west it was obviously hard to keep up such rules of behaviour etc. When in the beginning of their journey they travelled by horse in long robes on a ladies saddle, this often changed very soon. They had to do the same work as men - caring for the cattle they took with, carry heavy loads and additionally wash clothes, care for the children and cook. This definitely changed the attitude towards what "was done" and therefore fashion and rules of behaviour soon simply got dismissed.

For sure there were exceptions, the first woman on the Santa Fe´ Trail, Susan Shelby Magoffin, for example travelled with silk laundry, a servant and her own coiffeur. (Brown 1982: 12) But most pioneers definitely could not afford such a journey in luxury. According to Brown, the central figure of the American west was not the so called cowboy on his half-wild horse, but the skinny female figure on the wagon, who followed her man wherever he might go: The woman with the sunhat. This picture is more than a clichee- it mirrors an attitude towards life. In a letter a frontier s woman described such a journey to the west and added a detailed description of one of her fellow female travellers:

"The wagon was full of stuff to build up a new home; dishes, wood, coal, food. And somewhere inbetween,- squeezed in between papatoes and corn for the oxes- this woman, in her arms a baby of two years and a bundle of things she hadn´t found a safe place to store, protecting her aching head against the burning sun with a sunhat." (Julia L. Lovejoy Letters, in Kansas Historical Quaterly XVI (1948), S.321) There was a huge variety of women who decided to take the long road to the west. The motivations to go were just as manifold: The search for wealth, the search for a husband, adventure, fame. So,- who were the women who went West?

Most of the names are forgotten now, just pieces of their stories are left. Sometimes journey descriptions would be published in local newspapers; the many letters that were sent home and of course their journals provide a good source. An interesting fact is that surprisingly many women kept a diary during their journey and during the time of settlement. This could have more than one explanation; either they were perfectly aware of the fact that they were part of something big - the colonialisation of a new part of the world, or they simply had felt the need to note down their torments, their fears - abandoned from everything they had known, their families, friends, their familiar surroundings. It was an inner fight against the unknown, a opportunity to put their fears in words without demotivating the track.

Dangers everywhere (chapter2)

Since the very first pioneers came to the American continent in the 17 ct , stories of native American attacks were written down, spread and became a common fear of everyone who decided to settle on the new continent. Moreover there was a very special genre, mostly written from and for women, the captivity narratives. Women that were taken captive by Native Americans and freed later on wrote down their experiences, describing in detail the cruelties they suffered from, hunger, fear and things that were worse than death - their euphemism for everything concerning sexuality and abuse; written in times when this topic was absolutely taboo, such hints were a call for the reader to read between the lines.

When women really began to move westwards from 1850 on, this kind of literature was already pretty widespread and part of a national legend; and it built the foundation of fright and fear women explained in letters and diary entries.

Less feared by women but more fatal than Native Americans were illnessess: Cholera, smallpocks and malaria. In the first years of the western movement surprisingly few deaths were noted; this propably is due to the fact that most people who went were rather young and healthy and the country was still so empty that the risk to catch a contagious disease was almost zero. Nobody thought of death at those times, and a proof for that was that no wood for coffins was available when the first serious epidemic cholera followed the settlers from the Atlantic coast to the Mississippi in 1849, caught the tracks that went to the settlements of St. Joseph and got till Fort Laramie. More than 5000 people died.

Women were affected in two ways: Often their male protection died and if they survived the illness there was still the question whether to carry on and stay in the track or to go home again. Life without a husband or father was hard to bear, since it had not been their dream that had called them to go west.

Army women (chapter 3)

The army had always had their invisible soldiers: wives, nurses, cloth washer, prostitutes - army women. The culture shock between the civilised east and the wild West must have been a shock for them, especially for the young girls that accompanied their soldiers from West Point to the various Forts in the West. Those girls had mostly no idea what it meant to live a life depending on their own. It was common at that time that a girl would quickly marry her fiancee before he had to serve in the West in case he would not come back. Many of them decided to come with to the unknown border but were not prepared or used to such a life at all.

The most common way to transfer these women was the ambulance wagon pulled by donkies - according to Brown the most uncomfortable and dangerous way to travel. The shelters where they slept and the forts where they lived were more than simple and provided no comfort at all. It is part of her myth that Elizabeth Custer, wife of the famous General Custor, always saw a part of her duty to provide a home for her soldiers. He fixed pictures she brought with her or she had painted herself to the wall, decorated the interior with colored paper, flowers and needlework. To run a household under such circumstances was a torment itself. The wood for cooking was always wet, since there were no proper trees in the prairie. The dishes had to be washed in rivers and, if there were none, in buckets that had to be filled with water, carried to the forts and emptied by the women. Drinking-water was collected in buckets as well, and the women were in charge that there was always enough for the supply of cattle and men.The constant wind in the Great Plains was very nasty when it came to drying clothes, and all cooking books were in vain since such ingredients as eggs, butter or cream were hardly ever available

Another interesting detail about military camps was that it was common to get a place to sleep according to your military rank. The bedrooms were always overcrowded and people without a rank at all had to sleep in patatoe cellars or outside; but if you by chance managed to find a free bed it could happen that in the middle of the night a higher officer arrived in the camp and you had to move - and take away someone else s bed. Sometimes the arrival of an officer caused the move of more than 50 people. This procedure was known as brick-pushing.

Since there was always a coming and going at such camps or forts, and the cost for these moves and travels had to be paid by the soldier and his family himself, these familys were always poor. And moreover soldiers were paid in paper money or checks which had to be changed into gold or silver coins before you could buy anything at your post. The change rate for papermoney was more than 50 per cent and this, additionally to the extremely high costs in the old West guaranteed the fact that there was actually never enough money for any kind of luxury or regular contact with ones family, since holidays were not paid and travelcosts, as already mentioned, had to be paid by the soldiers themselves. The worst thing that could happen to an army wife was the death of her husband. She would not get any sort of pension and would either have to leave the fort or earn some money on her own. Sad but true,- some of the prostitutes that followed the fort were formerly noble soldiers wives

3.2.1 Usuage of pronouns and prepositions

IV. Lucky Ladies - Real pioneers (chapter 5)

Some women really reassured their place in history by chance. So did the first white woman to ever set foot on the Northwest coast of North America, Jane Barnes.

Donald McTavish, a Scotsman, was elected to become new governor of Fort George, a newly established camp on the North west coast. He was said to have a favor for lively blonde girls, and when he was informed that at his new work post there would not be any women at all except for some very dark-skinned Chinook Indian ones, he decided that this was an unbearable fact. In 1813 he went into a bar in Porthsmouth, England from where his ship would leave the next day. There he got to know Jane Barnes, who fitted his wishes perfectely and he made her an offer she could not resist: If she agreed to accompany him to Fort George and be his mistress for two years, he would provide her with an endless wardrobe and afterwards she would get an annual pension for her lifetime.

The deal worked out fine and for one and a half year Jane was treated like a princess in Fort George. Not only was she admired and adored by all soldiers,- even the Prince of the Chinook tribe fell in love with her and broke the peace treaty after she rejected his proposal of marriage, attacked the Fort and tried to kidnap her.

He failed however, and everything would have been perfect for Miss Barnes would her protector McTavish have drowned in an accident two months later. In quite an odysse Jane had to make her way home to England on her own and then fight for the pension McTavish had promised her. His family was not willing to pay at all. Nevertheless, in the end Miss Barnes married a very wealthy man and led a comfortable life, but she never forgot that she once had been a goddess at the West coast. Half a century after Jane Barnes, a lady with equal qualities started a fabulous career at Virginia City,Nevada. Julia Bulette opened the first brothel in this town and increased the life quality in this city enourmously. During the goldrush she was the only woman available in Virginia for months and made about 1000 Dollar a night. She reigned the city like a queen and was loved and worshipped by all diggers. Some girls followed her and soon she opened up a proper etablissement employing about 20 girls. 15 years after her arrival she was murdered by unknown assassinators and the whole city mounted about her. Her life inspired authors such as Rex Reach and Bret Hark, and even 20 years afterwards the Virginia Truck Association named their luxury train wagon after the whore with the heart of gold

V. It s a long hard road...(chapter 6)

It would be totally wrong to think that those families who decided to go and build up a new existence in the west have had an easy decition to take. There were obvious difficulties,- such as leaving behind friends and a familiar surrounding, being prepared for the journey financially, since you needed provisions, food for the cattle, medicine and many things more. Considering those costs, it is evident that it were not the poorest of the poor that went.

Mostly lower middle class and middle class people decided to seek good fortune at the new border. And there were the unknown obstacles to go through,- problems that could arise during the journey they hadn´t thought of at all. A good example for such a misery nobody was prepared for is the Thunder-Group story that occurred in 1847, which made notorious history.

p> It is the story of a rather wealthy family, the Reeds, who encountered their personal nightmare on their way from Illinois to the westside of the Rocky Mountains. Mr. James Reed was a personal friend of Mr. Abraham Lincoln, who was not yet president at that time. They both expected a great political career and Mr Reed was caught by the "Wild-West-Fever" and both decided it would be best for him to become Indian agent on the whole territory of the eastside of the Rocky Mountains. The story was preserved in form of Mr. Reeds 13 year old daughter Virginias´ diary:

The Reeds packed a wagon and joined another track to be better prepared in case of attacks by indians. The shocking thing about the reports of the Thunder-Group is, back then and today, that it could have happened on any track: The members of the track did not get along very well. After a few weeks there were many quarrels and jealousy, since the wealthy Reeds were much better equipped than any of the other track members. Finally James Reed had a big argument with a Mr. John Snyder over an oxen he had borrowed, and Snyder was accidentally killed. Reed was banned from the track but his family stayed and it was promised they would be taken care of. When the remaining track members tried to cross the Sierra Nevada, they had not thought of the huge amounts of snow they would have to deal with in December.

They eventually got stuck and had used up their last meat and fried bread on Christmas Eve. On february 19th 1847 James Reed returns to their camp with a rescue team from Fort Sutter, and what they found made, as already said, notorious history. A track member, Lewis Keseberg, must have gone mad due to the lack of food and hope and had killed all women except Virginia. The members remained had eaten up the dead bodies in order to survive.

For Virginia, whose diary inspired among many the author Homer Cray to write his book "Wheels West", there was an happy end after all. She went with her father to California and led a happy life.

Of course not everyone had to suffer that hard, - but anyone who went thought of the journey as "the longest walk they ever went for". (Brown 1982:117)

VI. Vain, but not in vain! (chapter 8)

This chapter Brown dedicates exclusively to fashion,- something that must not be ignored in a female oriented history. In fact, not only the food supply was pretty poor as soon as one left the civilized world, but obviously also such luxuries as soap, washing powder and clothes. If you wanted to be and stay a real lady in the west, you had to be pretty inventive.

Over the time many recepes and substitutes were created and handed from one woman to the other. And some of these inventions were preserved: Since the climate was rather tough for soft female skin, and no cremes or soaps were available, a real western beauty box was created. To clean ones skin at night, women found out that this worked rather fine with rubbing buttermilk and wax mixed with oliveoil into your face.

Because you could not buy powder women used a paste of flour and corn to hide their sunburn tan. Instead of rouge they either rubbed red earth onto their cheeks or they pinched themselves into their soft faces. A good shampoo substitute was a mix of wild lavender that grew beside the roades and whiskey with rhizinusoil. To wash your clothes you at least needed half a day to prepare the lye of wood ash and animal fat.

Another pioneer in her own sense was Miss Amelia Jenks, a dressmaker in Oregon city in the 1850´s. She thought about the fact that the current fashion, wide, broad skirts and bodices, actually didn´t fit the needs of a woman in the west at all. Western women had to ride horses, hoard cattle and generally do hard work,- in short she wanted to create sensible clothes for sensible women. She had a triumphant success all over the country with her invention of the Bloomer: A rather short ballon skirt with satin trousers underneath. The Bloomer was a happy medium for every hard working woman who did not want to sacrifice style and elegance.

VII. Tights and Velvet (chapter 10)

When everywhere else in Europe women still had to struggle with caging morals and injustice in general, - in the west of North America some woman really lived the American Dream!

If you were a single woman and eager for success and money - here you had the opportunity to get both and that fast! In the 1850s hundreds of theaters opened in and around San Francisco. It was not necessary to be a real dancer, singer or acctress,- if you had the guts to try you would succeed!

In the times of the goldrush women were a rare sight and whoever came to lighten up the diggers´ hard life would be rewarded highly. It never had been that easy for women to draw public attention to them as in California and San Francisco at those times. Actresess such as Sarah Bernhardt or Caroline Chapman had become rich women over night, and dancers who could fascinate their audience through their elegante clothes and friendly words were loved in return.

Out of love for theatre and the spectacle in general a newly created western performance arose: The rodeo! As always in the beginning the rodeo was only actively participated by men; but soon women entered in this metier. When the silent film got popular female Rodeo stars were wanted even more. Lucille Mulhall earned with her One-woman- show on horseback 1Mio$ in a year. The female influence on Rodeo fashion can still be seen today,- the colorful costumes were formerly a signifier that a female cowboy was acting. Later also male rodeo stars wore colours to draw more attention to them

Part II:

Exemplary women of the West (chapter 13, 14, 15)

In these chapters some exemplary women of the west are introduced, who did not only have an impact on their western community but who changed the status of women basically and completely forever. Dee Brown only mentions their existence in short, so further research was necessary to provide a detailed summary of their life and work

I. Clarine Irene Howard Nichols (1810 - 1855)

To understand what made Nichols a real feminist, one has to appreciate the second-class status that women held in 1810, the year of her birth.

As soon as a woman got married, all of her posessions and property, even the one inherited from her parents, became the legal posessions of her husband. If, as a woman, you made an unlucky choice concerning your husband, he had full control over your and your families well being,- as it happened to Clarine Irene Howard with her first husband. He forced her to take care of his wealthy parents but sent her parents to the poorhouse,- her whole property was invested to his newly raised company and Clarine was treated worse than any servant. It needed a lot of cinfidence to take the daring step she took in 1830: She decided to stigmatize herself socially and get a divorce. It must be stressed that this was not an easy issue in those times, only in severe cases the Supreme Court - in this case the Supreme Court of Vermont - would grant divorces. However, due to "intolerable severety of cruelity" Miss Howard was a single women with two children again.

After having been divorced from her first husband, a New York Baptist preacher, Clarine Nichols returned to her birth-place Vermont in 1839, where she started her career as a journalist. As the editor of the Democrat, a liberal newspaper, she got to know its editor and publisher, George Nichols, fell in love and married him in 1843 .

Clarine wanted to fight the injustice that had happened to her and help preventing the exploitation of young women. Her new husband was very supportive and encouraged her involving in the women´s right movement. Soon after their marriage George became chronically ill, and despite caring for him and her four children, Clarine took over the editorial and financial duties of the paper.

For the next 11 years she wrote editorials in the Democrat urging new laws that would give women equal political, legal and social rights with men. She spoke widely throughout New England, and on one of these occasions in 1852 she met and befriended Susan B. Anthony. When in 1854 the Congress passed the Nebraska Act, which opened up Kansas territory to settlement - not regulating the slavery question - Clarine and her older two sons joined a company of abolitionists and headed West. In those days she wrote many letters home to the Democrat and to her friend Susan B. Anthony which could have been preserved. With the anti-slavery force ascendance by the end of 1858 throughout Kansas, she turned her attention back to women´s rights. A crucial test came in 1859, as delegates from around the territory organized a state constitutional convention to be held in Wyandotte City. She attended every session, which was covered by four New York newspapers. Behind the scenes she lobbied convincingly and was even asked to address the assembly, the only woman honored in such a way.

As a result of her efforts, when Kansas entered the Union on January 29th 1861 it approved these reforms: The right for a woman to buy and sell property; the right to equal custody of children in case of divorce and the right to vote in local school elections. Her more radical attempts like the right for women to vote in general were denied1. But the time had not yet come.

The outstanding fact about Clarine Irene Howars Nichols propably is that unlike Anthony or Stanton she never had the time to write a book or keep a diary. All her efforts could easily be forgotten, since she lived in conditions most would consider primitive and can be called extremely poor. Very little fuss was made in newspapers or magazines about her name, but still she was there,- she had existed. She was the typical woman of the West: A silent hero2.

II. Esther Hobart McQuigg Slack Morris (1814 - 1902)

Esther McQuigg was born in the state of New York and orphaned at the age of 11. When she was 27, she married and became Mrs. Slack which she styed for three years, until the death of her husband. A few years later she remarried and moved with her new husband, Mr. John Morris, to Wyoming Territory in 1869. Wyoming at that time had never even held a meeting of the territorial government,- it was a brand new territory and this might have inspired Esther to her vision and her quest: Rights and freedom for women that were not available elsewhere in the country.< /p>

With that goal in mind she held a teaparty for her local delegate to the upcoming government meeting, urging him to present the legislature with a proposal to allow women´s suffrage, noting that if women were voting , they would vote pro-law and pro-government.

The delegate did so and Wyoming became the first territory to enfranchise women. Esther continued her crusade and soon put through equal pay for male and female school teachers, rights for married women, and the right for women to hold office and serve on juries. In 1870 she was appointed justice of the peace as very first woman ever for South Pass City. She served in this position for less than a year but was well-respected and her judgement was never reversed. She left her husband in 1871 and moved to Laramie where she ran for office.

When Wyoming applied for statehood in 1890, it seemed doubtful the territory would be accepted as long as women had the vote. There are two versions of the message that Wyoming gave Washington: "We may stay out of the Union for 100 years, but we will come in with our women" or "we will remain out of the Union a hundred years rather than come in without our women." In fact, Wyoming became a state with women s suffrage intact1

II. Calamity Jane (1848/1852 - 1903)


The last woman that will be presented mirrors perfectely the general perception of the Wild West today: No borderline between fiction and reality. Martha Jane Cannary is a historical figure as well as a myth not unlike Billy the Kid or Wyatt Earp. She started creating this myth already during her lifetime and therefore it is not surprising that almost no clear facts are available about her as a historical figure. She created her own past, her own present and therefore took care of her future.


Considering this, two versions of Calamitys life shall be summarized here,- the version she wanted people to believe and the version that seems to be the historical truth.


Not even her date of birth is a proven fact, the assumptions vary between 1848 and 1852; the place of birth definitely was Princeton, Missouri and her maiden name was Martha Jane Cannary, the oldest of four children. Since her seven page autobiography is everything historians have to rely on, it is not undoubted whether these dates are true.


In 1865 the family moved to Virginia City, which took a five months journey. According to Calamity herself during this journey her remarkable shooting and riding skills were discovered.

When her mother died in 1866 she left the city heading Utah, arriving in Salt Lake City during summer, and moving again, after her fathers´ death two years later to Wyoming Territory. In 1870 she joined General Custer as a scout at Fort Russell and started for Arizona for the Indian Campaign. This was also the point when Calamity stopped to wear female clothes and exclusively was seen in the traditional cowboy costume.


During her time in Custers army her fame as reckless fighter and notorious shoot spread and when she returned to Fort Sanders in 1872 she was hired to fight in the Nursey Pursey Indian Outbreak by General Crook. It was during this war that she was christened Calamity Jane. An interesting fact is that there seem to be many variations to this story but the most thrilling and adventurous,- not to say far-fetched - tale comes from Calamity herself: She claims that she was with General George Custer and General Miles in this Indian Campaign in 1873. In other variations of the story is was General Egan.


However, the commanding General and his company got into an ambush a mile from their destination and were systematically killed by the Indians. Calamity claimed to had been seeing how the commanding General Egan was shot by an arrow and was about ot fall from his horse. She turned her horse and got there in time to catch him as he was falling. She lifted him to her saddle and succeeded in getting him safely to the Fort. All other soldiers of the company were murdered.


From that moment on she was named Calamity Jane, heroine of the plains1. Another controversial figure in the Calamity Jane legend is Wild Bill Hickock


In her supposed autobiography Calamity claims that he was the love of her life, and even a supposed daughter once turned up in 1912.


Both are just parts of the Calamity myth that was created by Martha Cannary herself and even more by the Hollywood producers that took her life as inspiration for various screen plays.


The legendary version however is this one:


During the year of 1876 Calamity acted as a pony express rider carrying the U.S mail between Deadwood and Custer, a distance of 50 miles. It was the only means of getting mail and money between these points.Wild Bill, whom she got to know during one of her trips to Deadwood, was visited by her whenever she was in town. On August 2nd , during a gambling session in the Deadwood saloon, Bill was shot in the back of his head by the notorious Jack McCall. As soon as Calamity heard of this, she determined herself to take revenge on the murder of Bill and hunted him for months until she found him in a butcher shop in Shurdy where she grabbed a meat cleaver and made him throw up his hands.He then was arrested, tried and hung. According to historians, it is very unlikely that their paths ever crossed. Wild Bill only arrived in Deadwood in 1876 and died three months after his arrival. He had recently married, evidenced by a marriage certificate and a letter to his bride


1.What happened from that point on is also very unclear. Calamity claims that she married and lived in Boulder Colorado for 17 years , where she and her husband, a Mr. Clinton or Charly Burk, kept a little hotel.


In fact, according to eye-witnessess and a official contract, she had signed a contract with an eastern amusement firm. In New York and Philadelphia her name alone made the show a sell-out. By the time the show reached Minneapolis and Chicago she was drinking quite heavily, and after eight weeks her contract was not renewed. From that on it is most likely that she took to wandering again.


In July 1903 Calamity came back to Deadwood. Her health was failing and she could not even hold her liquor anymore, probably due to a peptic ulcer. One month later she died silently at the age of fifty-three.


Martha Jane Cannary was buried in Deadwood´s Moriah cemetery, next to Wild Bill Hickock. It is said she wished to be buried beside her old friend Wild Bill. Most likely there was no such wish at all but the authorities of Deadwood sensed their chance to make their city a tourist attraction and even changed her death date to coincide with Bill´s from the 1st to the 2nd of August, and the romantic legend took off.




BROWN, Dee (1982). Pulverdampf war ihr Parfüm. Hamburg: Hoffmann Campe (01/2004) (01/2004) (01/2004) (01/2004) (01/2004) (01/2004) (01/2004)


(Name of author or date of on-line publication were not available for me since these informations were sent to me via e-mail. I hope that´s Ok!)



"Warning" by Jenny Joseph

Mag. Sarah Marisa Gruber
Seminarpaper for: Einführung in die Literaturwissenschaft, SS 02

1. Einleitung

In der folgenden Interpretation des Gedichtes Warning von Jenny Joseph sollen vor allem Hintergründe zur Entstehung des Werkes, seine inhaltliche Bedeutung und sein Wirkungskreis erläutert werden.. Da es sich um ein sehr emotionsbehaftetes Werk handelt, soll zu dem analysiert werden wie trotz Verzicht auf strenge Schemata dem Leser die von Joseph angesprochenen Gefühle vermittelt werden.
Das behandelte Thema ( Altern in der Leistungsgesellschaft ) ist ein sehr komplexes und so sollen vor allem die Punkte, an denen der Autorin gelegen zu sein scheinen, zur Geltung kommen.


2. Autor und Zeit

Jenefer Ruth Joseph wurde 1932 in Birmingham, Warwickshire, geboren. Nachdem sie ihre schulische Ausbildung am St. Hilda s College mit Auszeichnung abgeschlossen hatte, arbeitete sie Mitte der Fünfziger Jahre einige Zeit als Reporterin bevor sie im Alter von 25 Jahren nach Süd-Afrika ging und dort zwei Jahre lang eine Bar betrieb .

Nach der Rückkehr in ihr Heimatland unterrichtete sie in London Sprachen, zuerst an Schulen und später an Bildungszentren für Erwachsene.

Sie wurde in ihrem Leben mit mehreren Preisen ausgezeichnet, unter anderen mit dem James Tait Black Memorial Award for Fiction

Ihr Gesamtwerk umfasst bislang vier Lyrik Sammelausgaben, ( The Unlooked-for Season; Rose in the afternoon and other poems; The Thinking Heart; Beyond Descartes) den experimentellen Roman Persephone sowie Kinderbücher und die Bildserie Beached Boats.

Das Gedicht Warning stammt aus ihrem zweiten Sammelband Rose in the Afternoon (1974), welches Kritiker als ihr menschlichstes Werk bezeichnen. Josephs Poesie will philosophisch und nicht greifbar sein. Sie befasst sich weniger mit der äußeren Welt, behandelt nicht die Wirrungen ihrer eigenen Gedanken, sondern will vielmehr Allgemeingültigkeit für sich beanspruchen, wie zum Beispiel Sprichwörter dies tun .

Ihr Ziel ist nicht die lyrische Perfektion, vielmehr soll Lyrik dazu gebraucht werden, Sprache an sich zu verdeutlichen - das "Material Wort" zur Geltung zu bringen.

In diesem Sinne ist auch Warning eine besondere Bedeutung beizumessen, da sie in diesem Werk auf Stereotypen verzichtet und menschliche, individuelle Charaktere zu Wort kommen lässt.

Warning wurde bereits von einer reiferen, lebenserfahreneren Jenny Joseph verfasst.

Es ist in ihrer Lektorenzeit in London entstanden, nachdem sie als Besitzerin einer Bar und Journalistin bereits die Facetten des menschlichen Charakters studieren konnte. Der hier behandelnde Generationskonflikt tangiert die damals 42jährige vielleicht bereits selbst.


Warning wurde bereits unter mehreren Titeln veröffentlicht, unter anderem als When I Am An Old Woman, The Purple Poem, Old Woman, I Shall Wear Purple, und einfach Purple.

Die Leseart blieb jedoch stets dieselbe, nur der Titel variierte. Die von mir gewählte Version stammt aus: Jenny Joseph, Rose in the Afternoon (Dent 1974) und steht unter dem Titel Warning.

Josephs Gedicht zog eine Welle der Begeisterung nach sich. Es hatte den Pulsschlag der Zeit, - genauer gesagt den wunden Punkt einer Generation von Frauen getroffen. Elizabeth Lucas, eine bis dahin eher unbekannte Londoner Verlegerin, sicherte sich die Urheberrechte an dem Gedicht und startete Mitte der Achtziger Jahre eine Merchandising Reihe, die sich seitdem größter Beliebtheit erfreut.

Elisabeth Lucas Designs brachte T-Shirts, Sweater, Grußkarten, Plakate und allerlei Geschenkartikel mit dem gesamten Gedicht bedruckt auf den Markt. Musiker, Maler, Poeten - ein Jahrzehnt ließ sich von Jenny Joseph inspirieren. Frauengruppen wurden in ihrem Namen gegründet, die eben jenes Thema - Die Frau mittleren Alters in der Leistungsgesellschaft - als Grundkonzept hatten

4. Text

4.1 Warning

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple

With a red hat which doesn´t go, and doesn´t suit me,
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we´ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I´m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings.
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people´s gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and penciles and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practise a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.


3.2.1 Usuage of pronouns and prepositions

4.2 . Metrisches Gitter



























Wenn ich eine alte Frau bin, werde ich Purpur tragen
Mit einem roten Hut, der mir nicht passt und mir nicht steht
Und meine Pension werde ich für Brandy und für Sommerhandschuhe
Und Satinsandalen ausgeben und sagen, dass wir kein Geld für Butter haben.
Ich werde mich auf den Gehsteig setzen, wenn ich müde bin
Und in Geschäften Proben einsacken und Alarmknöpfe drücken
Und mit dem Gehstock an Gitterzäunen entlangfahren
Und die Ernsthaftigkeit meiner Jugend wieder gut machen
Ich werde in Hausschuhen in den Regen laufen
Und in anderer Leute Gärten Blumen pflücken
Und lernen wie man spuckt.

Man kann schreckliche Hemden tragen und dicker werden
Und drei Pfund Würstchen auf einmal essen
Oder nur Brot und saure Gurken eine Woche lang
Und Federhalter und Stifte und Bierdeckel und anderes Zeug in Schachteln horten.

Aber jetzt müssen wir Kleider anziehen, die uns trocken halten
Und unsere Miete zahlen und dürfen auf der Straße nicht fluchen
Und Kindern ein gutes Beispiel sein
Zum Essen müssen wir Freunde einladen und die Zeitung lesen

Aber vielleicht sollte ich jetzt schon ein bisschen üben?
Damit die Leute, die mich kennen, nicht so erschrocken sind und sich nicht wundern
Wenn ich plötzlich alt bin und anfange Purpur zu tragen.


5. Interpretation und Analyse

5.1 Analyse

Das Gedicht gliedert sich in vier Abschnitte, die sich sowohl rhythmisch als auch inhaltlich unterscheiden.

Es liegt kein Reimschema und kein fixes Metrum vor, wodurch die zu vermittelnde Botschaft noch deutlicher in den Vordergrund tritt.

Josephs Gedicht ist eben ein Aufruf gegen Konventionen und Schranken und auch auf formaler Ebene verzichtet sie auf konventionelle Formate.

Durch die polysyndetische Verbindung der Zeilen schafft Joseph dennoch eine atmosphärische Textkohärenz.


Kranz, David L. (2003). "The English Patient: Critics, Audiences and the Quality of Fidelity". Film/Literature Quarterly 31.2: 99-110.

Pfister, Manfred (1991). "How Postmodern is Intertextuality?" In: Intertextuality. Ed. Heinrich F. Plett. New York: de Gryter. 207-224.

Plett, Heinrich F., ed. (1991). Intertextuality. New York: de Gryter.

Plett, Heinrich F. (1991). "Intertextualities". In: Intertextuality. Ed. Heinrich F. Plett. New York: de Gryter. 3-29.


Pro Vers sind zwischen neun bis vierzehn Hebungen zu finden, außer in Zeile elf, wo sich die Verfasserin mit vier Hebungen begnügt.

Durch die verminderte Anzahl an Hebungen wird dem Leser der Vorgang des Spuckens verdeutlicht.
Die Verse beginnen jeweils unbetont und sind nicht geteilt, pro Vers findet man ein Bild.

Der formale Aufbau ist in allen vier Strophen beinahe gleich: Es wird mit einem vollständigem, einleitenden Satz begonnen und die darauffolgenden sind weiterführende Beispiele, beziehungsweise Ausführungen des angesprochenen Themas, die jeweils mit And oder einer anderen Konjunktion wie Or beginnen.

Dieser Satzbau weicht immer dann ab, wenn sie in einen neuen Bildbereich wechselt.

So thematisieren die ersten vier Zeilen das konkrete Auftreten des expliziten lyrischen Ichs. Das Enjambement in der ersten Zeile verdeutlicht jedoch auch noch die zusätzliche Bedeutung die Joseph der Farbe Purpur zumisst:

Es geht hier zwar um die Kleidung, Purpur ist aber auch von der Konnotation des Königlichem, Besonderem behaftet.
In Zeile fünf wechselt sie in den Bildbereich des öffentlichen Lebens, wie man sich in Alltagssituationen wie Einkaufen, auf der Strasse gehen, dem Eigentum anderer gegenüber, eben nicht verhält.

Diese Verweigerung aller Normen wird jedoch durch den Ausspruch: And make up for the sobriety of my youth1 verständlich gemacht.
Überhaupt sind die ersten elf Zeilen als implizierte Negierung der Verhaltensmuster die von der alternden Frau, oder generell vom alternden Menschen, erwartet werden zu verstehen.
Der zweite Absatz führt den Leser nun in den privaten Lebensbereich, weg vom Alltag auf der Strasse, hin zu den Absonderlichkeiten denen sie zu Hause frönen wird. (Auf diesen Bereich wird in der Interpretation noch näher eingegangen)
Die dritte Strophe ist nun von universalen Aussagen gekennzeichnet.
Eine metrische Besonderheit zeichnet sich in der exakten Einhaltung des Rhythmus in Zeile 16 und 17 ab: Pro Wort eine Silbe. Eine gewisse Endgültigkeit der Aussage wird dadurch deutlich. In diesem Absatz vereinen sich auch die thematisierten Bildbereiche öffentliches und privates Leben. Eine weitere syntaktische Besonderheit besteht darin dass sie den Absatz mit einem vollständigen Satz, also Subjekt, Prädikat, Objekt, beginnt und schließt.
Der letzte Absatz wird mit einer rhetorischen Frage eingeleitet und endet mit einem antithetischen Argumentationsgang: Das Wort Suddenly ist hier bedeutungstragend und weist P auf die dramatische Ironie des "plötzlichen"  Alterns hin.

Die Abfolge der Strophen und Zeilen ist nicht austauschbar, da stets auf das bereits Gesagte Bezug genommen wird. Ohne Metrum und Reimschema steht dem Leser durch den Satzbau (polysyndetische Verbindung und Reihung) doch ein roter Faden zur Verfügung, der durch Änderung der Abfolge abhanden kommen würde.

Die im Text verwendeten Substantiva erfüllen zwei verschiedene Funktionen: Sie werden einerseits zur Erzeugung von Räumlichkeit verwendet. Sie geben uns das Umfeld an, mit dem sich das lyrische Ich gerade auseinandersetzt. Zu dem sind sie als Pars pro toto zu verstehen, auf diesen Punkt möchte ich jedoch in der Interpretation zu sprechen kommen.
Die Verben im Text fallen nicht besonders auf, mit Ausnahme von gobble up (6), dass uns die verwendete Sprachebene aufzeigt. Joseph verwendet Alltagssprache, ihr Leser ist also eine ihr gleichgestellte Person. Auf Adjektive verzichtet sie fast zur Gänze, nur in Zeile 12 stechen die terrible shirts (12) ins Auge.

5.2 Interpretation

Das explizite lyrische Ich des Gedichtes spricht mit einem nicht näher bestimmten Adressaten, dem es die stereotypen Erwartungen der jungen Generation an die alte indirekt aufzeigt und diese für sich jedoch verneint. Es schlüpft in die Rolle der alten Frau, deren skurriles Verhalten, Kleidungsart und Denkweise der Norm widersprechen.

Der Titel kann als humorvoller Aufruf zum Widerstand verstanden werden, das lyrische Ich spricht dem Leser Mut zu, auch im Alter noch seine Facetten und Eigenheiten zu bewahren.

Durch den relativ simplen Satzbau und die oftmals verkürzten Aussagen erinnert das Gedicht auch an einen inneren Monolog. Diese explizite Subjektivität lassen den Leser die verschiedenen Situationen durch ihre Augen sehen.

Es gibt keinen Handlungsstrang, und weder Ort noch Zeit werden genauer bestimmt.

Dies ermöglicht dass sich eine breite Leserschaft angesprochen fühlt und sich individuell mit den hervorgerufenen Gefühlen identifizieren kann.

Der Reihe nach werden nun eine Reihe von Verhaltensweisen genannt:

Farbe Purpur zu Beginn des Gedichtes steht für Erhabenheit des Alters genauso wie für Extravaganz im negativen Sinne.

Der rote Hut, der weder sitzt noch zu ihr passt, hat etwas Kennzeichnendes, - ein Brandmal, das die Sprecherin von der Gesellschaft abhebt.

Geld wird für Brandy und Sommerhandschuhe ausgegeben, - Dinge, die zwar nicht lebensnotwendig sind, wie Butter, aber dem lyrischen Ich einfach Freude bereiten.

Auch im Alter soll man sich noch seines Lebens freuen und darf sich Extravaganzen leisten. Von alten Menschen wird vielleicht erwartet dass die das Erbe zusammenhalten. Diese Meinung teilt die Sprecherin aber nicht: Wenn nicht jetzt, wann dann, ist zwischen den Zeilen zu lesen.

Joseph spricht von der sobriety of my youth1: Der strenge soziale Kodex betraf sie wahrscheinlich tatsächlich noch, bedenkt man dass sie in den 30er Jahren geboren wurde, doch war sie eine Frau, die an die Zukunft dachte, und die das Leben genoss - eben wie viele Frauen ihrer Zeit das gelernt hatten. Ein neues Selbstbewusstsein wurde gerade zu dieser Zeit unter den Frauen geboren. Selbstverwirklichung war möglich, das vorgefertigt Muss der drei K´s konnte durchbrochen werden; Kirche, Küche, und Kinder waren nicht mehr der einzige Lebensinhalt einer Frau und die Visionärin Joseph hatte 1971 bereits die Gewissheit, dass sich dies auch nicht mehr ändern würde. Die Autorin und das lyrische Ich dürften ident sein, aus diesem Grunde kann man sagen die Verfasserin charakterisiert sich in der ersten Strophe selbst als ausgelassene, lebenslustige Persönlichkeit, die vor hat, diese Wesenszüge im Alter beizubehalten, beziehungsweise auszuleben. Die Aussage I shall... learn to spit1 ist ein eindeutiges Bild für das Zurückfallen ins Kind-Verhalten; to make up for the sobriety of my youth...2
Sie will sich zu einem späteren Zeitpunkt im Leben erlauben, was sich sonst nur die Unbedarftheit der Jugend herausnehmen kann, obwohl andere soziale Spielregeln für den alten Menschen gelten sollen.
Aber die Sprecherin muss erst lernen zu spucken - ihr Lebtag hat sie es nicht getan, wahrscheinlich führt sie ein respektables Dasein und will sich dieses Protestverhalten erst später gönnen, wenn Verantwortung und Beruf sie weniger einschränken..
Eben dieses Thema, das sich entsprechend "dem Alter angemessen" verhalten, wird im zweiten Absatz konkret angesprochen. Nun kann man fett werden, eigentümliche Essgewohnheiten annehmen, und unnötigen Kram sammeln. Das Alter gibt ihr das Recht, das zu tun was ihr Spaß macht.

Absatz drei steht nun in Opposition zu den beiden vorangegangenen. In Beispielen wird der Kontrast zwischen Vernunft und Neigung verdeutlicht
Clothes that keep us dry steht im Gegensatz zu slippers in the rain; set a good example for the children zu press alarm bells und spit. Pars pro toto stehen diese Dinge für das Verhalten das im Allgemeinen von einem vernünftigen Erwachsenen erwartet wird und die Gegenreaktion die sich die Verfasserin für ihre Zukunft vorstellt.

Das Terzett zum Schluss ist sowohl Appell an die Leserschaft als auch selbstreflektierender Appell sich selbst nicht immer auf später zu vertrösten. Das Leben passiert jetzt und hier, warum sich also stets erwartungskonform verhalten, wenn dies nicht den eigenen Neigungen, beziehungsweise seinem Naturell entspricht?
But maybe I ought to practise a little now? ist eigentlich die Frage: Warum sich gewisse Freiheiten nur als Kind oder alter Mensch herausnehmen? Warum sich ständig innerhalb der gesellschaftlichen Norm bewegen und tunlichst vermeiden, diese zu überschreiten?

6. Schlusswort

Mag anfänglich der Aufruhr den das Gedicht hervorrief verwirren, wird doch nach genauer Studie klar: Jenny Joseph hat in einfachster Sprache eine neue Lebensphilosophie auf den Punkt gebracht.
Der Reiz dieses Gedichtes liegt für mich in seiner Botschaft, die unmissverständlich seinem Leser einen Weg in die mentale Freiheit zeigen will.
Die von Joseph angesprochene Thematik erweist sich in der heutigen Zeit als äußerst brisant, einer Zeit in der die Menschen immer mehr leben um zu arbeiten, anstatt das Gegenteil zu tun. Man vertröstet sich dann auf später, wenn Zeit ist, wenn die Verantwortung weniger wird, oft fällt auch tatsächlich der Ausspruch: Wenn ich in Pension bin...
Wir haben uns selbst ein solches Netzwerk an sozialen Spielregeln gesponnen, dass es uns schon beinahe unmöglich ist, diesen zu entrinnen wenn uns einmal der Sinn danach steht.
Von Geburt an werden uns Verhaltensmuster mitgegeben, und je strikter jemand sie einzuhalten versteht, umso akzeptierter und effizienter funktioniert man in der Gesellschaft.
Auch das Privatleben bleibt davon nicht verschont. Für Überschwang oder Gedankenlosigkeit ist kein Platz mehr. Wenn man die Unbegrenztheit seiner eigenen Persönlichkeit öfter erleben könnte, könnte man das Wunder der Überwindung der Schranken auch im zwischenmenschlichem Bereich erleben und es gäbe vielleicht wieder ein Miteinander.
Ich sehe das Gedicht als Aufruf, sich zu jedem Zeitpunkt seines Lebens, ruhig ein wenig mehr Verrücktheit, und somit Individualität, zuzugestehen, und schließe mich in diesem Sinne ihrer Fangemeinde an.

7. Literatuverzeichnis

-  Joseph, Jenny (1974). "Warning". In: Rose in the Afternoon. Dent.

- Jordan, Richard (1982). Contamporary Poets.

Access date: 03/ 10 / 02

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