The Victims by Sharon Olds

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In “The Victims” by Sharon Olds it describes a divorce through the eyes of the parents’ children. The first section is shown through past tense as the speaker is a child and the last section is shown in present tense with the speaker already being an adult trying to make sense of past events. The word “it” in the first two lines carries a tremendous weight, hinting at the ever so present abuse and mistreatment, but remaining non-specific. The first part generates a negative tone toward the father who is referred to as malicious by the mother who “took it” from him “in silence” until she eventually “kicked him out.” Through the entirety of the poem the children are taught to hate their father. Who taught them? Their mother showed them that their father was a villain and were taught to have no sympathy for him but “to hate you and take it” and so they did so. Although the poem never directly states what the father did to receive the family’s hated, the speaker gives examples as to why he is hated. There are several examples of the why the children hated the father besides the mother’s instigation. Examples like the father having an affair (“your secretaries”) or could have been an alcoholic (“your lunches with three double bourbons”), but he undoubtedly took advantage of his power and his kids “grinned” at his calamity like they did when President Nixon resigned (“Nixon’s helicopter lifted off the South lawn the for the last time”). In the second and last section, the tense
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