The Beginnings of Anorexia


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Suicide is not the answer. Although, many people might think that a statement as simple as “suicide is the answer” is the core or the main point of the poem “Anorexic” by Eavan Boland. But, those that might think the suicide is the central point of the poem are extremely wrong, there is more about that poem than must people can understand, recognize, or want to accept. Boland wrote this poem in 1980 and until today still being one the most extraordinary poem in its simplicity but also very deep in its complicity. Consequently, if a person read the poem once without any background knowledge he or she will understand what the basic idea behind the poem is; however, if the same person read the poem one more time with more information about different topics. Background knowledge about what is Anorexia and the Christian Bible would help to clarify the speaker situations, feelings and decision of commit suicide.

“Flesh is heretic” (line 1) the very first grammar structure of the poem lead us to the conclusion of a war. When the speaker says these words, she was sending a subliminal message saying that her flesh what is the same as her skin is heretic, which means one who rejects. So, it is safe to assume that she thinks her that her body contradicts her. Her body is her enemy. Furthermore, she hates her body. Instantly, she supports her theory with the second sentence in which she claim, “My body is a witch.” (2) In this sentence she compares her body to a witch. A witch is an evil been, a creature that wants to hurt, a scary creature that cast spells. In this comparison speaker imply that her own body wants to hurt her and when the speaker says “How she meshed my head in the half-truths” (7 - 8) is very important because in this particular part of the poem is when the speaker actually describe that the witch is casting spells on her, making her think that she is fat when it is not the actual truth. Now the speaker claims a contra attack when she claims, “Now the bitch is burning.” (15) She also refers to the way her body is reacting to the fight, “Yes I am torching - her curves and paps and wiles.” (4 - 5) this is the way of the speaker to say I am winning this fight, I am not eating and my hips, waist, and breast are just “skin and bone” (17).

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Apparently after she wins the fight she realizes that “I am starved and curveless” (16), but she shows a feeling of happiness when she states, “She has learned her lesson.” (18).

This poem takes the person that is reading it further than just what is happening now. The poem takes the person to the origins of the problem, in this case, the origins of anorexia. The poem makes allusion to a very famous story that nearly ¾ of the planet knows about it, the story of the creation of humans from the Christian perspective; in other words, the story of the Garden of Eden. The story of the Garden of Eden consists in four characters God, Adam, Eve and the serpent. The story is the following, God creates the heavens and earth and God creates man in his image and he called him Adam and then God put Adam to sleep and out of the man rib creates a woman and calls her Eve. Eventually, the serpent comes into the play and convinces Eve to eat from the only tree that God says not to eat from. After the serpent convinces her, she convinces Adam, and then they fall from the grace of God. The speaker makes allusion to this story by saying “Thin as a rib” (19), certainly referring to the rib that God took from Adam. “In his sleeping side.” in this sentences the speaker is referring the moment when God Put Adam to sleep. (27), “slip back into him” (31 - 32). She wants to go back inside because before the fall there was not self-awareness, so there was not sense of fat or thin, consequently anorexia would not exist and she will be free.

-“A few more days sinless, foodless” (29 - 30) said the speaker. It is easy to see that the speaker is literally starving to death which she actually believes is the only way out of the battler and suffering. She wants to “forget the fall” (40 - 42). There were to big falls in the history of the Bible, the fall of Lucifer and the fall of man from God's grace which is when man committed sin in the Garden of Eden. The second fall is the one that the speaker wants to forget. Because if she forgets it, she thinks, it will be like it never happen and something that never happened can not cause her suffering and pain.

Suicide is the only answer, thoughts like those may be the ones that were going trough the mind of the speaker in this poem, but suicide is the stupidest way out, is not even an exit. It is just an excuse for giving up. The knowledge about this disorder and the Holy Bible can give the person that reads this poem a sense of why suicide is not the greater answer to that specific problem. In this poem, the speaker chooses the wrong way to be free of her problems, but it also has given a different way to look at the origins of anorexia. Instead of low self-esteem, the answer might be more deep and complex. Instead of looking at the end of things, we should look at the beginning.



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