Zachary Welsh’s Thoughts On The Woman Hanging From The Thirteenth Floor Window

The Woman Hanging From The Thirteenth Floor Window by Joy Harjo deals with a speaker grieving her of sense of belonging and now is experiencing a sense of severe loneliness. As readers venture further into the poem, they quickly realize why the woman is preparing to jump, as Harjo states “she thinks she will be set free.” The poem deals with underlying themes of when individuals are taken out of their homes and what they know and how that can drive them to experience the very negative effects of solidarity. This is even represented in the poem with the way it handles Lake Michigan. In some places on the lake, the woman found a sense of comfort along the shores, but when she sees the lake in the present moment, as she prepares to jump she describes it as “a dizzy hole of water.” This contrast acts as a way for Harjo to show the stark difference between the speaker’s mental state with the calm, past waters representing a sense of knowing, and the vicious, crashing, present waters representing a sense of feeling lost. By having her poem include two endings, the author allows her readers to not only get a happy ending that they are probably hoping for, but she also gets the, to open their eyes to the very real, very grim effects that isolation and loneliness can have on some individuals.

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