They killed our daughters.
What strange God is this
who made men after His image?
(Ser, let this be my show of support. Ingat po always.)
First and foremost, the poem shows a feminist belief: men dominate, or in this case, kill, women. Yet this is a violent act whose emotional impact is heightened by the death not just of any woman, but of “our” dear daughters.
The poem ironically contrasts the violence and the description of the God who allows it as strange. People won’t probably react as the persona did when their daughters die. There’d be anger, lament, grief. Surely, it would be strange to say, upon a murder of one’s daughter, “It is strange that God makes killers in His image.”
The direct simplicity of “They killed our daughters” also directly contrasts with the gore the act surely involved. The poem just shows the brutal facticity of the killings, an in-your-face, straightforward, and unadorned fact. Just plain, pure unadulterated death. The poem doesn’t describe in detail the gore, yet the violence is all the more graphic because of that. Less is more.
The poem adds a religious touch to its feminist thrust: why does a supposedly good God allow evil (violence) to happen? Answering this question has been the business of theodicy, a branch of philosophy of religion that deals with the why God allowed or created evil.
Like Job, the poem questions God’s goodness. God created killers, so God allows killing. The apple, as they say, doesn’t fall far from the tree. In which case, God has a lot of explaining to do. Moreover, if God is evil, this ultimately undermines the narrative of Salvation and Redemption. How do we reconcile an evil God with a God who wants to save us?
The critique of God also moves on a linguistic level. The use of “this God” scornfully reduces God to an object (this!) and this hints at a position from which the persona is angrily speaking. By calling God “this”, he establishes a dominance and precedence over Him. To name someone implies a certain power over that person. (This is why Jacob refused to give his name to angel who asked for it!)
So far the poem has mentioned two levels: the feminist and religious. However, nothing so far has shown the interaction between these two in the poem. Among other things, the religious twist functions as a rhetorical device, predisposing readers to interpret the poem in a certain way. Specifically, it lays out a mindset by which readers denounce the daughters’ deaths. After all, God represents justice and goodness and killings are far from being just. So as far as this goes, one is then led to condemn the killings. And the fact that the poem describes God as “strange” heightens the discrepancy. (God as just and God as allowing killings)
Of course, this does not mean that the deaths are condemned just because of the rhetoric of religion. If one is already an ardent feminist or a plain believer in human rights before reading the poem, the rhetoric of invoking God may simply reinforce one’s position of condemnation.
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