“To Another Housewife” examines the lack of recognition awarded to women, especially those in a family situation. The poem has a conversational tone, as the persona is speaking to a close childhood friend. The persona is anonymous, as is the friend. They seem to see their identity reflected in their “daughters, sons, and hungry men”. They are, it seems, just “another housewife.” The women are referred to almost as objects, rather than people, using terms such as “girls” and “housewife”.
Their responsibility to their families has interfered with their own wishes. As children, the “greensick girls” made a pact “to touch no meat forever more.” Now, the persona emphasises the irony of their situation, attributing it to their station in life.
“How many cuts of choice and prime /
our housewife hands have dressed since then.”
In order to fit into their role as women, as mothers and as wives, they have been “duty bound” to ignore their idealism of the past. Their expression of self has been swallowed by their identity as housewives. Their once “childish hands” are now “love and blood imbrued.” They are torn between duty to their families and their duty to their own identity.
“To Another Housewife” was influenced by Wright’s childhood on the station. Her mother came from a lively family, and found the home at the station “gloomy and uninviting.” It is likely that her mother often felt that she was little more than a “housewife,” under great pressure to cook, clean and work for her family, with very little recognition. She received little support from those around her. Wright suspected that her own birth may have been preceded by miscarriages, though her mother “like most women, was silent on such matters.” The pressures of life that her mother experienced were rarely recognised by those around her.
During the Second World War, Wright may have had some insight into her mother’s life, when she returned home to support her father while her brothers were away in...