I Shall Paint my Nails Red, by Carole Satyamurti, is another poem that, to me, shows insecurity and unknown identity. The poem is describing how she shall paint her nails Red, and why. She writes in every line a different reason for why it should be done.
Red being the key word, as it is a symbolic colour of many things; love, warning, anger, danger etc. This shows that this woman wants and needs to be noticed. Therefore we are led to believe that she isn’t already. Although the style in which every line is written seems to make her very brave and bold on the outside, I think this is just a cover of how she wants to be but cannot around her closest. She writes, how her ” daughter will say ugh” as if in disgrace and her ” lover will be surprised.” She is in a shell that needs to be broken, because her family and friends are restricting her from being herself.
Although she writes as if she is very bold, every line is just an excuse and a reason, why she can paint her nails, as if she is trying to convince someone why she should. This is wrong, because if she wants to paint her nails, she should be able to, without having reasons and explanations for why. This shows her lack of confidence, and need of approval. She backs up her opinions with saying, that if it is not right, it is reversible, always making sure she makes the right decision, never over stepping the line, or taking a chance, and going out and doing whatever she wants to.
The clearest technique here is repetition, of the word ‘because’, at the beginning of every line. This is Satyamurti, trying to back up her thoughts. She keeps each line short and sharp, making her views bold and clear, putting across a strong sense of individuality, at the first glance.
Her first line is,
” Because a bit of colour is a public service.”
This already shows that she is not just doing it for herself but is thinking of others, the public. Then some of the lines to follow are just personal to her, for example,
” Because I am proud of my hands.”
” Because it will remind me I’m a woman.”
” Because I can admire them in traffic jams.”
She then writes how it is practical,
” Because it is quicker than dyeing my hair.”
” Because it is reversible.”
But I think the most important line is,
” Because it is a ten-minute moratorium.”
I think this is probably the most realistic reason, because she just wants time-out from what’s going on. It is an excuse to get away from everyone and everything. She knows that if she cannot be herself around others, she needs to be however she wants to be, in her own mind, to boost a bit of confidence. Maybe she just wants a change, to let everyone no what she is really like, and this is just the beginning. She may want a new appearance and needs a bit of beauty therapy. Red is a bright, bold colour that can make you feel better about yourself.
Because the poem is so short there are not many techniques to write about, but I think this length, gives it its’ character, and also gives Satyamurti her character.
At first it seems to be assertive and showing a strong sense of individuality, but this is just how she wants to be, she cannot act in this way. I think it is all explained in the title, where it says ‘I Shall’. Meaning one day I shall do this, but not, I will today, right now. It is more of a title wanting an answer, she could have written ‘I Shall Paint my Nails Red, shouldn’t I’? Because really, she wants an approval and a bit of optimism.