The Meaning of "Marks"

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In the poem “Marks” written by Linda Pastan, the speaker gives the reader an insight as to how her family views her as a mother and wife. Her family grades her on her duties and responsibilities based on what they believe is a good mom and wife. Each family member grades the speaker in different ways. Her daughter believes in a pass or fail grading system, her son believes in below average, average, or above average system, and her husband believes in the letter grade system. The speaker’s final response to her family’s constant judgment is in the last line of the poem in which she says, “I’m dropping out.” This poem focuses on a woman who is fed up with her family’s constant judgment of her as a wife and a mother. This poem stresses that people are constantly being evaluated by others who tell them what they are worth. The speaker is represented as someone who is mistreated and misunderstood as a mom and wife. Her main role as a mother and a wife is to provide and support her family in any way that she can because she has unconditional love for them. As a mother and a wife she should not have to receive feedback from her family based on her duties. Her family shows her a lack of appreciation by continuously grading her for doing things for them. They treat her as if she is a student in school rather than a mom and wife to the point where she is starting to actually believe that she is a student. In Pastan’s poem “Marks”, the speaker says, “My son says I am average, / an average mother, but if/ I put my mind to it/ I could improve” (5-8). The tone of that line “but if/ I put my mind to it/ I could improve” implies that she believes that she could improve if she tries harder which shows that she cares whether or not her family is satisfied with her. As a mom she does not want to have to improve to satisfy her family but wants her family to be more

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