Poetry Explication: Marks by Linda Pastan

Natalie Lozano
Professor English-Bircher
ENGL 1302.003
18 September 2015
Poetry Explication:
Changing a Situation for the Better with
Marks by Linda Pastan
In school, students turn in assignments to their teachers to be graded because it’s what is expected of them, but no one expects to be graded by their family. The poem “Marks” by Linda Pastan is about a woman who is being graded on her performance as a mother and as a wife. On a daily basis she goes through consistent judging from her husband and two kids. In the end of the poem, she decides to take control and “drop out” due to her irritation because whatever she has done for them isn’t good enough (L.12).   Even within the title of the poem, “Marks”, can tell us the speaker’s situation.
The title for this poem, “Marks”, gives off the perfect representation of what is happening between the speaker and her family. In this poem, “the metaphor of marks (or grades)” refers to a school environment. In this case, the speaker is the student, and her family are her teachers, “My husband gives me an A/for last night’s supper,” (L.1-2), “a B plus in bed. /My son says I am average,” (L. 4-5), “My daughter believes/in Pass/Fail and tells me/I pass.” (L.9-11). Though these grades are not bad, what matters to the speaker is that one should not receive these kinds of comments about their day to day duties as a wife and mother , and expect to not affect her emotionally.
Throughout most of the poem, it shows us that the husband and children have made the speaker feel as though no matter what she has done for her family, it has not been enough to fully satisfy them. From cleaning and making dinner to pleasing her husband in bed, “talking about her performance of family duties suggests her irritation.” So in result, the speaker realizes that she can leave this repetitive cycle with her household and change it for the better.
Everyone always has the choice to change a situation. In the last few lines of Pastan’s poem,...