This is an essay regarding the theme of symbolism in Rosario Ferre's work The Youngest Doll. The specific theme is the use of dolls as a representation of women.

Essay by aloha11505High School, 11th gradeA+, May 2004

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Rosario Ferré uses dolls in her writing to symbolize the methods in which society holds down women in Puerto Rico as well as throughout the world. In "The Youngest Doll," Ferré sets the precedent that dolls are equal to the maiden aunt's nieces, by stating, "The aunt had continued to increase the size of the dolls so that the height and other measurements conformed to those of each of the girls (Ferré 483)." The methods in which the aunt prepares the doll, such as, "Then she would make a wax mask of the child's face, covering it with plaster on both sides, like a living face wrapped in two dead ones (483)," re-entrench the concept that it is not only men but women who view the female in a diminished sense. This is further developed when the aunt states, "She would reassure the grooms by explaining to them that the doll was merely a sentimental ornament, of the kind that people used to place on the lid of grand pianos in the old days (484)."

This contradiction, while subliminal, demonstrates the primary objective of Ferré, that women are viewed as objects that have no pragmatic value; essentially on earth as a toy.

Also, the manner in which Ferré describes characters shows the manner in which she feels women are treated in society. Specifically, the fact that not a single character or doll is given a personal name throughout the story exemplifies the idea that women are just viewed as objects and not people. Thus, because Ferré shows women to be viewed as objects and shows this with the dolls as well, the author believes women to be held down by society.

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