“Monologue for an Onion” is an ingenious method for layering meaning through metaphor. The poem uses the simple task of peeling an onion as a metaphor for complicated and malicious relationships between people. The onion as a metaphor does not seem extraordinary in itself; but, upon reading one will discover that the author discusses “layers” and peeling them away to receive the truth. This is true; however, there is a larger irony at play here.
Suji Kwock Kim, the author gives a sense that the onion is begging someone to stop peeling, cutting, chopping and relentlessly searching, while the other person feels compelled to do the contrary. The author uses the metaphorical concept of an onion to personify her own layers of humanity. The onion begins by stating, “I don’t mean to make you cry,” (1) as the person is peeling the layers apart. The onion states, “Poor deluded human: you seek my heart” (6), the individual is peeling away at its layers to understand what is at the core.
However, the author blatantly states that “I am pure onion-pure onion/ Outside and in. ” (8-9) Regardless, of the peeling which takes place on the outside it is senseless, because the inside remains unchanged. This implicit comparison shows cleverness and originality by expressing no change in a person’s interior versus their exterior. The narrator metaphorically shows compassion for the individual as she does not have the heart he is seeking, and the culprit is accused of pursuing false hopes.
As layers peel away, the tone of the poem goes from displaying compassion to contempt. The condescension is apparent when the onion states, “Look at you, chopping and weeping. Idiot. ” (10) The onion resorts to mocking and illuminating the person’s personal flaws and ignorance. It condemns the person’s entire approach, accusing him of searching for a truth founded on deception and idealism. Moreover, the onion pleads, “You must not grieve that the world is glimpsed through veils. How else can it be seen? How will you rip away the veil of the eye, the veil? ”.
(16-18) This implies that the onion has several layers, and as the “peeler” peels them away, the truth (that there is not a heart) becomes more evident. When the truth comes to light, it will not be untainted, as they will observe it through a veil of tears from dismantling the onion. In essence, there is a feeling of battle between the narrator and the “peeler. ” The onion is not completely defenseless; however, the onion’s fight is not in the physical sense as is the “peeler’s. ” There is the bluntness of truth that the onion uses as it’s resistance. A battle for the truth emerges between good and evil.
Evil, being the peeler’s unyielding attack on the onion disregarding the onion’s plea there is nothing to find; yet they are determine to find what they believe to be true. In contrast, the onion being brutally torn apart was steadfast in its unwavering stance against the attacker is perceived as heroic. Comparatively, the narrative best relates to an unhealthy relationship. The metaphor of one cutting an onion to someone in a relationship that one knows is not healthy, but the individual pursues it anyway. The onion expresses, “I don’t mean to make you cry.
I mean nothing, but this has not kept you from peeling away my body, layer by layer. ” (1-3) Prior to someone cutting into an onion he is aware of the repercussions. Undoubtedly it will make your eyes water or burn badly; yet they continue to do so. That also can be applied to a toxic relationship. One is aware of their mate’s ability to break her heart; however, they continue in the relationship to the end mindful, of the inevitable. In conclusion, Suji Kwock Kim’s piece shows how man is constantly longing to seek truth, to view the world without the “veil” that covers it.
People are constantly peeling away, in search of finding the secrets within. Ultimately, people lose sight of what may be evident right in front of them. Man becomes so driven to find this “truth” that he becomes “lost in its maze of chambers, blood, and love. ” (29) Those who have harmed others in their quest to discover a deeper truth will expire as a result of the guilt that has been built up in their hearts. The search for the truth is an endless game that will only end in the demise of mankind.
Courtney from Study Moose
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