School Papers

In the effects being in a toxic environment

       In her novel in verse Because I am Furniture, Thalia Chaltas chronicles Anke depressingly comparing herself to furniture and the lack of acknowledgment from her abusive father to explore the effects being in a toxic environment can have on one’s perception of love and ability to express themselves.       Chatlas, using negatively connotated words associated with uselessness and apathy, conveys the feelings of disconnectedness and worthlessness that comes with abuse. Like her family’s attic furniture, Anke feels isolated from her family because of the lack of acknowledgement she is given. Chaltas describes the furniture as “superfluous” (195) and “garish” (195). Both terms are used to describe items that are insignificant and extra, indicating that Anke perceives her familial role as obtrusive. Instead of Anke’s time doing an errand with her father being described as a experience of warmth and bonding, it is depicted as a “perfect” (197). In this case, to be perfect is to be without humanity; lacking the imperfections and emotions that define human beings. To be described as such indicates that Anke’s apathetic relationship with her father leaves her feeling subhuman and unworthy of a voice. By associating Anke with terms of unwant and impersonality, Chatlas reveals that one’s perception of self can be warped when faced with neglect in an abusive environment.       Furthermore, Anke’s downhearted and detached tone suggests that her abusive father’s unacknowledgement has left her feeling as if she were a forgotten accessory. Anke solemnly narrates as she lists the unwanted furniture that has accumulated in her family attic, as if she were telling a story about each of the items rather than witnessing them. This demonstrates her disconnected attitude caused by her neglectful father. She describes her falling tears as plummeting down in a “agony of defeat” (196), a phrase that solidifies the idea of Anke’s brokenness from being ignored. “No praise. No critique. No words” (197) is how Anke depicts achieving a task with her father; the lack of variation and details signify the detachment Anke feels as a result of being shut out by him.The suppression of one’s personality due to being neglected by an abusive authority figure is indicated by Anke’s disconnected and melancholy attitude.       Chatlas compares Anke’s attributes and the furniture with cold elements to show the absence of vitality and compassion in Anke’s life due to her neglectful father. Even when expressing emotion, Anke’s cold tears rush down her cheeks “like olympic skiers” (196). Given the cold, rigid environment olympic skiers ski in, Chaltas essentially indicates that Anke has become an  apathetic and detached shell of herself. Additionally, the furniture in the attic is described as “hidden away like unused emotions chilled to a crisp” (196). Like the furniture, Anke’s relationship with her father and family is distant and unresponsive, which results in her loss of dynamism and warmth when it comes to interacting with them and expressing how she feels. Her father’s abusive nature coupled with his intentional neglect of Anke makes her feel like a mute, discarded family relic and forces her into a state of emotional isolation. Chaltas illustrates how an abusive person can destroy one’s sense of humanity and self by neglect through similes.       Chaltas tells a compelling story of surviving domestic abuse through her intricate poetic style and use of devices. The reoccurring furniture motif helps Chaltas accurately convey the unfortunate state of being objectified and pushed into a state of detachment when one faces neglection in an abusive home. In telling Anke’s story, Chaltas helps give a voice to the millions who suffer in silence, and hopefully, inspires many others to speak up and do the same. Works CitedChaltas, Thalia. Because I am Furniture. Speak, 2010.

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