Ageism in Literature

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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Randall Jarrell is a poet that calls attention to women’s perspectives and ageism throughout his poems. He is not very accurate on his efforts to adopt women’s point of views but he is accurate on ageism because many people fear aging. In my opinion, no man can speak for a woman when they don’t experience the same things females do. 

The only thing a man can do is to appreciate them, respect them and acknowledge their contributions. In the poem “Next Day,” Randall Jarrel criticizes women’s appearances for wanting attention or favor from men.

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The poem is told from a woman’s perspective who lost her youth. As she began to age, she becomes unhappier because her appearance has changed and she has gotten less attention from people “. . . the world looked and its mouth watered. How often they have undressed me, The eye of strangers” (Jarrel 162). 

This refers to when she was young, she was more noticeable and had lots of attention. In reality, women look good for themselves, we don’t want sexual attention from anyone. We know we’re beautiful and rare. Then Jarrel continues to illustrate that she feels sad by the way she looks and is afraid of getting old by saying,” From the rear-view mirror, with the eyes I hate, The smile I hate, Its plain, lined look of gray discovery” (162). Most elderly women are not even bothered about their appearance and sexual attention because they know that they look good for their age and their more concerned about their health and family. 

One reason why an older woman is not even bothered about sexual desires is that they hit menopause and that causes intercourse to be painful due to a decline in their estrogen levels. This confirms that Randall Jarrel is shortcoming on the understandings of what women endure on a regular basis. Randall Jarrel is right on some points about a female mindset in his poems. For instance, in the woman perspective, he states that “Is learning what to overlook. And I am wise If that is wisdom” (Jarrel 161). Old people are wise because they passively learned so much about life by living so long and through my experience, most elderly women always have inspiring lessons about their life. Another thing he’s right about is when she misses her family, “It was so long ago, back in some Gay Twenties, Nineties, I don’t know . . . Today I miss My lovely daughter Away at school, my sons away at school, My husband away at work—I wish for them” (162). When people get older, they began to lose the people they love and as a mother, they miss their kids the most because they have nurtured them and sacrificed so much to help them succeed in life. I am a firm believer in which it’s not possible for a man to completely understand a woman. 

Regardless of anything men think they understand about women, they don’t and never will understand what females experience walking through the world. As far as I’m concerned that Randall Jarrel thinks a women’s life involves around a grocery store. The poem begins with “Moving from Cheer to Joy . . . I take a box” (Jarrel 161). This implies imagery of a woman deciding between brands of laundry detergent like Cheer and Joy. Then the boy that helped her with her groceries made her think about how “When I was young and miserable and pretty And poor” (162). It goes without saying that Randall fails to understand that boys do not make females feel young. In reality, men are the ones that make women feel old because they always go after younger women. Randall is not very accurate on his efforts to adopt women’s point of views but this is a good poem that shows her fear of aging because not only does your looks change but your closer to death. This is a struggle that many people face today and we need to learn no matter how old we get we need to love ourselves more. Also, be more grateful for the good things we experience through life and the people we still have in life.  

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Ageism In Literature. (2021, Jun 03). Retrieved from