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"Factory Work" Analysis

Please analyze how the author of "Factory Work" by Deborah Boe incorporates racial, ethnic, gender, religious, economic or social class, and/or regional aspects in the chosen work to develop a specific character's identity. Below is her poem.

Deborah Boe

All day I stand here, like this,
over the hot-glue machine,
not too close to the wheel
that brings up the glue,
and I take those metal shanks,
slide the backs of them in glue
and make them lie down
on the shoe-bottoms, before the sole
goes on. It's simple, but the lasts
weigh, give you big arms.
If I hit my boyfriend now,
in the supermarket parking lot,
he knows I hit him.

Phyllis, who stands next to me,
had long hair before the glue machine
got it. My machine ate up my shirt once.
I tried to get it out, the wheel
spinning on me, until someone with a brain
turned it off. It's not bad
here, people leave you alone,
don't ask you what you're thinking.

It's a good thing, too, because all this morning
I was remembering last night,
when I really thought my grandpa's soul
had moved into the apartment,
the way the eggs fell, and the lamp
broke, like someone was trying
to communicate to me, and he
just dead this week. I wouldn't
blame him. That man in the next aisle
reminds me of him, a little.

It's late October now, and Eastland
needs to lay some people off.
Last week they ran a contest
to see which shankers shanked fastest.
I'm not embarrassed to say
I beat them all. It's all
in economy of motion, all the moves
on automatic.
I almost
don't need to look at what
I'm doing. I'm thinking of the way
the leaves turn red when the cold
gets near them. They fall until
you're wading in red leaves up to your knees,
and the air snaps
in the tree-knuckles, and you begin
to see your breath rise
out of you like your own ghost
each morning you come here.

Solution Preview


Deborah Boe's "Factory Work" reveals a female character obviously on the low end of an economic social class, which is made clear to us in the first paragraph. First of all, the work is "factory work"; it is repetitive and monotonous and it doesn't require much intelligence. Boe writes, "All day I stand here, like ...

Solution Summary

A brief discussion related to understanding how to approach a poem through analysis.