A Woman Is Not A Potted Plant "A Woman Is Not A Potted Plant" by Alice Walker exemplifies the anger that she has about being a kept woman or homemaker. The very fact that the first two lines are in capital letters signifies that she is shouting out her statement to get the attention of her readers. Having knowledge of some of her history it is easy to see why this headstrong woman chose these words to express her inner feelings. She married a lawyer and became pregnant while attending college. Alice Walker's husband wanted her to be a homemaker, which could be the influence for this poem. Her roots bound to the confine of her house, assimilates the image of a potted plant and creates a vivid picture of a confined small clay circle being rooted in one place.
Women are not like that according to Walker, to be taken care of is something that Ms. Walker does not concede to. The constraint of the size of the pot does to the plant what the house does to the woman. The interpretation that can be perceived is to say that just like a plant she needs to spread out to her growth potential or she will eventually be cease to exist from her own confinement. Then with a pause the introduction to the next stanza is the statement "a woman is not a potted plant" is repeated to reemphasize that point.
In this stanza she says that a woman's "leaves" are not "trimmed to the contours of her sex" (lines 8-10). She can be trying to convey the message that saying her physical shape does not have to be any certain way for her to be a beautiful woman. She uses the metaphor of a plant to explain the nature of a real woman. Although it may also be perceived that potted plants do have an aura about them of natural beauty and magnificence they still cannot exist by themselves and independence is the direction of this poem. She is saying that women cannot be bound to any certain thing or by anything.
They are not in need of someone to Take care of them despite what someone may have told them or what some men think. The third stanza is introduced again with the same statement of "a woman is not a potted plant." Three is the magic number for remembering and the emphasis on hearing that statement the third time I envisioned a potted holiday flower. In all it's beauty it is intended to bring someone happiness, usually for a short time. When it's all used up it, the plant gets tossed and replaced like most women do. This poem is still making me feel the anger from the writer. Most women are beautiful just because they are women.
Walker goes on to use the metaphor of a fence instead of directly retelling the details, which permits a safe measure of distance, yet the ability to retell precise feelings Using the word espaliered seemed to represent the training of a woman to her race, country, motherhood, and husband (lines 15-19). The inclusion of "her man" in that list is powerful, because women are very often labeled by whom they are married to like Ms. Walker who identified with being married to a lawyer of a different race. Trying possibly to attain a higher level of respect from the one she grew up with. Women themselves sometimes use their husband or boyfriend to define who they are as a person. She chooses words that leads you to believe that women, should not be labeled or controlled by their husbands as they so often are or allow themselves to be.
The next stanza "her trained blossom" (line 20) can be inter perated as her life's experience of what to do and when to do it. Even though it is apparent that Ms. Walker is conveying why a woman should not be an house slave or a mans toy. Setting herself free she has learned a sense of why she is acting out and looking for attention, it probably was her upbringing. The statement that a woman is "wilderness unbound" puts women places women almost above men in the whole scheme of the world (line 30-31). This is a characteristic possessed only by women, because no one would ever venture to say that men are wilderness unbound.
Women tend to be associated with the Mother Nature image and Walker is saying that this is a good thing. "Holding the future between each breath" (line 31-32) again she herself as the center of things to come, woman that is. So up on that throne should she be placed for the sake of procreation. She is not here to be molded into someone's likes or needs. Men according to Walker, do not have that magnificence that women possess and no one knows quite where it comes from, but most people, including Alice Walker, know it is there. This poem describes the beauty that a confident and unbound woman possesses.
Most importantly a woman in the final two lines is not here just to be cultivated for her physical beauty to enhance her man, like the honeysuckle embellishes the landscape. Nor is she here to be drained of her nectar of life in the sake of procreation.