Summer is depressing. Sure it’s the story of a young woman’s sexual awakening, but her awakening seems largely futile as she does not end up truly awakened – truly independent. The final decision she makes (to keep her baby and marry Royall) seems only to imprison her. Yet, Dr. Singley brought to light the idea of the right of a child to tell his/her own story. Royall is usually the mouthpiece of Charity’s story and of Charity’s mother. So at the end of the novel (in this vein of telling one’s story), I found a tinge of hopefulness. (A tinge…her life will certainly be no cakewalk from here.) By keeping her child and rewriting/retelling her mother’s story, Charity becomes the teller of the story. She gets to tell the story – and so the “mouthpiece” has a gender change here – from the manly, violent, protective Royall to Charity, a young woman feeling her way through life and finding herself along the way.
So I see Whitman a bit here. Whitman sought to give a voice to America’s unsung. This is especially evident in the poems where he extols the virtues of the common man (one such poem is “True Conquerors”) and in Drum-Taps where he is often focused on the unnamed soldiers.
And of course, Whitman – in giving himself a voice in “Song of Myself” is telling his story.
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