Janis Ian - Society's Child - Are you a "society's child"?

Essay by AznSnake April 2003

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The song/poem is entitled "Society's Child" because the song/poem is about a girl who cannot have a black boyfriend. The girl is expected to have a white boyfriend, it is what society expects, and no, I am not a 'society's child'. Being a society's child means giving up the right to be independent. Parents can influence this expectation of a child.

The unknown citizen is an example to what a "society's child" is, except he is much older. He did everything expected by society, therefore giving up his freedom and independence. He was most probably unhappy, but looked for the convenience in others, even though it was inconvenient for him. Making everyone else happy is not the way to go, because he would have had a life of unhappiness and depression, although he wouldn't have shown it. He never expressed his thoughts unless it made others happy. He never complained and choosing other's benefit or convenience at the expense of their own happiness.

In Dawe's poem, Hopeless, Bloody Hopeless, he expresses his feelings about how society has become this image, that one has to do it's bidding to fit in. Even though the person may not want to, he or she has to because they want to fit in or has been raised as a society's child.

In line 6, "she called you boy instead of your name". The mother of the white girl is discriminating against the black boy, because she must think he doesn't deserve any respect from her because he is black. He deserved respect, or at least to be called his name, even if he was black or white. But the mother didn't even give him any respect at all.

In line 9, it reads, "but honey, he's not our kind". The mother is...