The Desire for Motherly Acceptance in “The Blue Dress”

 

“Through the streets, is me floating in her dress through the streets/is only the moon sees me floating through the streets, is me in a blue dress” (3).

Saeed Jones’s “The Blue Dress,” is describing a deep and lasting impact that his mother has on his life and his identity as a queer person and the desire to be vulnerable and to receive motherly affection.

The passage that I have chosen to examine the most deeply is, in my opinion, the most crucial part of the work. At this point in the poem, it changes from describing the dress of his mother to describing himself wearing the dress. This is a powerful moment because it is showing that he is in control of this endless flow of water—that while it has the power to flood or drown, he is being gently carried by it through the streets. Further, he is wearing the dress— the thing that he is floating in, the endless flow of water. 

It can be seen throughout the rest of the poem the juxtaposition of the dress being described as both fragile and delicate as well as ruinous and harmful. For example, the dress is described as “the ring-ting-ring of water dripping from mouths of crystal bowls and crystal cups” as well as “leaks like tears from the windows of a drowned house” (3). One can see how the water that is the dress—being described as a river flooding and filling up a house—can have completely different impacts depending on the context. It can be as delicate as drops trickling over crystal or as disastrous as water bursting out of the windows of a home. 

Because he is describing the dress of his mother, I believe this juxtaposition is referring to the influence that his mother has on him. That, like the water, she can either be loving and delicate or harsh and cruel. As Jones describes himself wearing the blue dress in this passage of the poem, he is trying to encapsulate a number of ideas. To begin with, the dress represents his freedom to express himself as a queer person, as a person who does not fit within the gender norms that are expected of him. Within this freedom, there is also a desire to be vulnerable and accepted for who he is. Before this passage of the poem he says “is a current come to carry me in its arms” (3). He is expressing a desire to be held and cared for by his mother and this dress is representing the power that his mother has to give him love, affection, and acceptance or the opposite: rejection, hatred, and neglect.

4 thoughts on “The Desire for Motherly Acceptance in “The Blue Dress””

  1. This is such a beautiful analysis and I completely agree. From his essay, we know that Jones struggled with acceptance, both from others and himself. To me, Jones’ mother seems more emotionally abusive than physical like his father. It makes sense for him to gravitate towards his mother for love and acceptance rather than the man who hits him. I think that the line “is a current come to carry me in its arms” can be understood as wanting his mother to accept him, but I interpreted it as seeking to accept himself too.

  2. The author of this blog post’s insights into this specific poem by Jones are very representative of the queer experince when it comes to family, specifically parents. A huge aspect of the LGBTQ experince is the fear of rejection from one’s family, especially parents or parental figures. This analysis of the poem encapsulates the experience, specifically Jones’, with the half-acceptence many queer people have to face; trying to earn the love of their mothers while simultaneously trying to be their authentic selves.

  3. I really like how in your analysis you talk about how the river has so many meanings. The ironic nature of how “being in control” of a river really means flowing with it instead of fighting against it and how the fight against Jones’ river of identity led to it “flooding his house”. The analysis of the speaker’s mother being like a river made me think of the lines from Moraga: “… every blow I took / from the hand of my mother came from a caress / you could not give her,” (Moraga, 3). Jones’ poem is both empowering and heartbreaking and your analysis, I think, only strengthens these qualities.

  4. I agree that Jones was constantly struggling to find acceptance from his mother. I relate this poem with the passage in Moraga’s text, where the definition of queerness can be found: “… I am used to not getting what I want. I am used to imagining what it must be like” (Moraga 26). “Not getting what I want” represents the constant rejection that LGBT people can face from people, especially their family. Also, I think the metaphor of the dress would be imagining a different scenario, where acceptance from the outside world would happen and internalised homophobia would be gone.

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