Eleven by Sandra Cisneros is a poem that explores the life of an eleven-year-old girl who feels emotionally neglected. Eleven’s name comes from the fact that, although she has experienced very little of life, it has already done her wrong enough times to leave her feeling at least 11 years old. Eleven does not have a strong connection with her mother, because Eleven’s mother is so wrapped up in Eleven’s sister. Eleven feels that she is the second child, whose importance in the family comes second to Eleven’s sister’s.
This poem gives insight into how Eleven thinks about herself, what she does when she is alone, and where she believes her life will go. Eleven notices that her Mom has trouble understanding Eleven or caring for Eleven like Eleven wants to be cared for by her own mom. From lines 3-5 in the poem it states “My mother never says anything / important enough to remember… The doctor says you have a short attention span / but I think your mind wanders because you don’t know // me well enough to think of good advice.
Eleven notices that her mother seems like she doesn’t care about Eleven, but Eleven tries to tell herself that her mother does in fact love Eleven. Eleven not only tells herself this, but also tries to believe it by listening to the things that her mother says. When Eleven thinks back on when her mother would come home at night when Eleven was younger, Eleven remembers how much joy she felt because even though Eleven’s mom had a busy job, every day Eleven would wait for her mom with balls in hand because seeing her mom meant receiving hugs and kisses for being so excited to see her mom again.
This shows that although Eleven feels neglected by her Mom now, Eleven still has moments where she is able to feel loved by her mom, showing Eleven’s resilience. Eleven knows that she is not the main focus of Eleven’s mother, but Eleven tries to push away the idea because Eleven still has happy memories of her childhood involving Eleven’s Mom. Eleven is trying to hold onto those memories to help lessen the feeling of neglect by Eleven’s mother.
Eleven spends a lot of time alone because Eleven knows that even if she tried to talk with her sister, it would result in them fighting and getting into arguments that are too advanced for Eleven’s understanding or too personal for Eleven to be comfortable with bringing up. Lines 21-28 state “Then I go off alone. I like it / when I’m alone, how quiet it is. Eleven’s big sister has friends over / Eleven presses her ear against the door and tunes in to their laughter.
Eleven knows that if Eleven were to walk into Eleven’s sister room while Eleven’s friends are over, Eleven would get excluded by them because they think of Eleven as just Eleven’s little sister. This makes Eleven feel like an outcast so Eleven instead decides to spend time alone where at least she feels close with herself for a little bit every day. Eleven enjoys being alone because no one judges Eleven or makes fun of her when Eleven is by herself.
Being around people can be very stressful for some people who have anxiety issues and this poem shows that even though Eleven feels lonely, Eleven is able to enjoy Eleven’s alone time and Eleven feels comfortable enough with Eleven’s own thoughts that Eleven is able to live life without feeling emotionally neglected. Eleven does not know where her life will go because Eleven feels like she has no one who provides guidance for Eleven and Eleven doesn’t feel smart enough yet at eleven years old to make decisions for Eleven’s future.
The best part of the day is when I’m in bed / and my mother comes at night and holds me. You’re far away now, you say; but as soon as you come back we’ll be very close again. / I won’t even have to say anything; you’ll see it my face. Eleven does not know what Eleven wants Eleven’s future to look like. Eleven is at a young age where Eleven has time to figure out Eleven’s life plan, but Eleven does not want to think about the future because Eleven knows that it might be scary for Eleven if Eleven makes too many decisions about Eleven’s life.
Eleven feels lost when she thinks of her own future because Eleven doesn’t feel smart enough to make good choices for Eleven’s future yet, which makes it hard for Eleven to imagine what her own future will hold. On top of that, Eleven keeps pushing away the idea of planning ahead for her own sake because thinking long-term can be overwhelming. For now, Eleven is happy with spending every day wishing Eleven’s mother safely landed Eleven in the airport and Eleven’s mother would come home in time to give Eleven a hug and kiss goodnight.
Eleven thinks back on when Eleven was at Eleven’s mom workplace when Eleven was younger and how much fun Eleven had because Eleven saw all of the interesting objects that Eleven’s Mom worked with, like mannequins, fabric, and computers. This shows that although Eleven feels neglected by her Mom now, Eleven still has moments where she is able to have fun with her mother that pass quickly into memories but are still fond for Eleven.
This allows the reader to see that even though Eleven may feel alone sometimes, there are still happy times where eleven can be a kid again and Eleven doesn’t have to think about the future. Eleven feels like Eleven is able to keep Eleven’s strength up by thinking back on Eleven’s moments with Eleven’s mom, even though Eleven’s memories are not as present anymore. “But I am not sad when I think of you or of / eleven.
Instead, I feel stronger; it’s like eating bread and honey. ” Eleven finds ease in remembering happy times with Eleven’s mother because it makes Eleven feel good rather than making Eleven sad about how far apart they are now. This relates to the idea that focusing on the past can be helpful for developing mental health because just reminiscing on old memories can help people feel better after an emotional time in their lives.
Eleven still feels Eleven’s anxiety about Eleven’s mom being gone, but Eleven thinks that Eleven will be able to get through it by focusing on good memories from Eleven and Eleven’s mothers past. “And when you come home from work at night I’ll fight my way into your arms. ” Eleven is not ready for Eleven’s mother to go away again yet because of how much time Eleven spends worried sick about Eleven’s mother, but Eleven can still look forward to these small happy moments where Eleven gets her hands on some bread and honey before more worry comes Loading…