Analysis of Poem “The Friend” by Marge Piercy

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In the poem “The Friend” by Marge Piercy, the speaker expresses the most common scenario when people seek acceptance and affection from others even though they may not want to have any type of affiliation by their a yearning. The poem seems to represent conversations between friends; the tone of this poem is serious and cold, reflecting on love which starts when the two character ask informal questions.

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My friend and I have a discussion at the dinner table. He jokes with me as he used to in our childhood. We ask informal questions and he teases me about my body; that is a painful thing he says to me. I can accept all his requests, and the last thing I confess to him is that I love him. His answer is that he is willing to be loved and accept it from me. Again, he continues the conversation by teasing me about my body.

The speaker of this poem seems to have a feminine voice because the main point of this poem deals with the most common scene that women at that time had to suffer, striving for other’s acceptance. The author creates a persona to be the voice of this poem to reflect woman’s suffering; because Piercy is the woman who works as an associate in the Women’s Institute for Freedom of the Press to connect the woman with the society community based on media in 1977 (Wikipedia). The reader of “The Friend” is for women all over the world, especially the wife or girlfriend in the love relationships. Through the poem, they can understand about the sacifying in love and the desire to make the other’s happiness.

The first stanza starts with one person telling for his friend to “cut off your hands”, he pokes fun at her body. The tone in this requirement is cold and blunt. Moreover, the next requirement he asks her is to “burn your body./ It is not clean and smells like sex” (Piercy 8-9); such lines paint the picture in the reader’s mind of how the man in the poem views the woman who is dirty and covered with impurities. He says hurtful statements to his friend to get her to leave him alone; however, it doesn’t work, and she only says yes. In spite of the joking, the last thing the two friends talk about is loving. His friend confesses to him “I love you”; he only says “That’s very nice.” (Piercy 11-12). He doesn’t say that he loves her back; he asks again about her hands. The woman in this poem is desires to be loved and accepted by her lover, and it makes the man think that his lover will do anything that he requires of her.

The presence in this poem is the action of the author. In the meeting, the man is present at the table with his friend, but his mind is not present in the conversation. That means his friend’s love is not present in his heart. Sometimes, he just starts their communication by joking at her body because he doesn’t care about what his friend thinking; this is also a reflection of his mind in that he wants her to leave him alone. The man in the poem aims to make her weak and make his presence dominant in the relationship. In my experience, this type of relationship looks like unrequited love more than friendship because real friends don’t behave in a painful manner or play harmful pranks and they remind their beloved friend that they appreciate to be their friends. Moreover, I believe that these two people sitting at the table have very different feelings for one another. It seems as if the man doesn’t care about the woman and is exploiting her emotions to get her to do what he wants. However, the woman in this poem wants to be loved and she is willing to do anything for her love.

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Analysis of Poem “The Friend” by Marge Piercy. (2019, Feb 20). Retrieved January 29, 2023 , from

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