A Feminist Interpretation

“A Man Becomes A Tree” is a story about a man who plays a Goura. The woman, who is simply described as a maiden, stands by and watches him play his Goura. The poem is an excellent piece for a feminist interpretation because it is really one-sided. The male in the poem is described for about 95% of the piece, while the woman is in only a few lines of the poem. In this piece, I will be examining the many ways in which this poem exhibits feminist beliefs, including its portrayal of a man and the sexuality of the piece. But it is my belief that the author is misleading you. She is trying to hide that the female character is really in control.

If you have read the poem, you will agree that the word that is the most used, is the word “he.” The phrase, “As he stands, the sun has set, as he stands; he still stands, as he holds it, he holds it in his mouth the Goura,” is an example of how often the word is used. It dominates the entire piece, with several entire paragraphs worded just like the phrase that was just quoted. This domination of the word “he” and lack of the word “she” in this poem is symbolic of the point that the author is trying to get across, which is that she believes the man dominates the woman.

The strength and power of a man is shown by the hunting and gathering that the man in the poem does. As we begin the poem, the man is coming down from the mountain after hunting Goura. It shows that he also has already begun to eat by the time he returns from his hunting. The fact that he is the first to eat is symbolic of his role in this poem. In most cultures, the most important person is the one that gets to eat first.

The female in this poem is never shown hunting or gathering. Instead, she is shown to be submissive to the man and being lucky to have someone in her life as awesome as he is. But the instant that man goes away, she leaves him for someone else. The poem also shows that all she gives in return for him being the provider, is her love and affection.

What I have told you so far is only what the poem first appears to be. Let’s take a little bit closer look at the material at hand. The author often describes the man to be like a tree. Because a healthy tree is strong and firm, it is symbolic of the man’s strength and power. When we look at what a tree truly is, we will notice that not only does a tree provide shelter, it often provides substance. By saying that “the maiden looks, fastening him to the ground…” the author is indirectly telling about how a man is like a tree. The roots of the tree are fastened to the ground. The phrase shows that she fastens him to the ground, just like she fastens him to her and possibly his family.

So the author in this poem is definitely someone who is feminist and uses this poem and the symbolism in it to express the stereotypes of the men and the women. But, by referring the man to be like a tree, she is trying to get across that these are only stereotypes and beliefs of some individuals. The author shows us that the woman is the one that is actually in control, for she has to do nothing to get her man to come home to her. “…for the maiden looked at him, and it is so that he became indeed a tree, and it is so that he talks…” is an example of the woman being really in control, since she is what makes him a man. Without her, he would be nothing.

This poem does an excellent job at portraying the stereotypes of males and females. The man is portrayed as being both dominate and strong, while the woman is submissive and weak. At the same time, it hints that things are not as they appear and that the woman is in full control.