To Be of Use by Marge Piercy Essay

1238 Words Jun 18th, 2008 5 Pages
Marge Piercy's poem "To Be of Use" expresses an opposing connotation about the idea of work. Most people believe the words "hard work" carry a negative connotation. What these words imply is not something that is generally received with enthusiasm but is often accepted either by force or obligation. The poem’s central theme is that satisfaction and self-fulfillment can be attained by using one's skills to serve a specific function in life, for it is the opinion of the speaker that an unproductive existence has no value or significance because it is vain, and pointless. Piercy uses figurative language, imagery, description, symbolism, and details to develop this theme throughout the poem. The narrator begins developing the theme in …show more content…
By using this image that implies that the individual is completely surrounded or immersed in their occupation, Piercy demonstrates that the speaker likes the idea of those people who actively engage in the action necessary to the realization of a task's achievement. By using the images of people "who go into the fields to harvest and work in a row and pass the bags along" (13-14), the narrator highlights the high level of active participation that his ideal workers maintain and their employment of teamwork and cooperation to get their jobs done. The speaker asserts that his selected associates "are not parlor generals and field deserters" (15), which are symbolic of the type of people who pretend working but in reality they keep at a safe distance from any arduous activity or cower when faced with a demanding task. The narrator announces that instead his most sought after colleagues "move in a common rhythm when the food must come in or the fire be put out" (16-17). The details Piercy includes in these lines point to the efficiency and the effectiveness that can be expected from the speaker’s favored colleagues which enables them to provide for basic necessities or protect and save others from dangerous situations.
In the last stanza, Piercy unifies the theme. The speaker states that "The work of the world is common as mud" (18). Piercy uses this statement as a symbol that represents the

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