Tiptree Passage #2 Close Reading

The Tiptree passage I selected comes from the middle of the story, closer to the beginning (p13) and revolves around Delphi, lightly touching on Mr. Cantle, the Infante, and the public. The passage depicts Delphi’s rise to stardom and the feedback she receives from both the public and her superiors. Though the focus remains on Delphi, the text does not do so from her perspective, but rather others’ perceptions of her. The parts of the text that stood out to me the most tended to revolve around Tiptree’s diction; some of the most distinct words referring to age. The narrator refers to Delphi as button-nosed, little, and a baby, creating an infant like idea of the girl for the reader. However, Delphi is simultaneously sexualized by the people around her. In this sense, Delphi’s youth does not represent her innocence or her naivety, but the superhuman vitality known to the gods. By creating a pedophilic connotation to the men’s views of Delphi, the author can evoke repulsion in the reader, which translate into not only Delphi’s sexuality, but her use as a pawn as well. However, youth and what follows it is not only applied to Delphi in this passage. Delphi develops a relationship with the Infante for publicity, and though he is constantly referred to as old, the title remains significant nonetheless. Although Infante is the term for Spanish or Portuguese royalty, meaning son of monarch, it still contains the Latin root infant. Tiptree does not use a king, a sultan, or a czar, but an Infante, and I consider this significant yet subtle in its allusion to one of the main themes of the story. The irony in this is that although we are taught that age often means wisdom, the citizens of Tiptree’s society are blind and ignorant as ever, still buying in to the extreme capitalism of the story. In contrast, Delphi is also referred to as a tiger. Though tigers generally represent physical and hierarchal power and sensuality, Delphi seems to lack these things herself. The power she seems to have is only an illusion, and her real power―that over the consumer―truly belongs to the people controlling her. In relation to illusions, Delphi also wears colloidal jewels. Though this seems insignificant initially, I have come to learn that these very jewels can stand as a modest metaphor for Delphi. A colloid is defined as a substance in which microscopically insoluble particles are suspended throughout another substance; P.Burke ‘suspended’ in Delphi. Ultimately, these examples of diction add to the overarching theme of the story in an inconspicuous and clever way.

P.S. Sorry this was kind of long, I tried to be concise.


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