The Cinnamon Peeler Essay

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Toronto is an editor at the Pennsylvania State University Press. In this essay, Toronto discusses how cultural context affects the reading of Ondaatje's poem.

Ondaatje's "The Cinnamon Peeler" is a powerfully aesthetic portrayal of erotic love in which the transfer of scent, in this case that of a particularly potent spice, becomes a public and private declaration of union. The surface of the poem can hardly be scratched, however, before running into the signs of a clearly male-dominated society, with women being defined in terms of the males in their lives. The cinnamon peeler's wife is an obvious example, but there is also the lime burner's daughter and the grass cutter's wife. The woman referenced directly, not indirectly through a male, is the cinnamon peeler's mother-in-law, though her identity is still only gained through a woman who is already defined in terms of a man.

The lack of...

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This section contains 1,880 words
(approx. 5 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Cinnamon Peeler Study Guide
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Poetry for Students
The Cinnamon Peeler from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.