Thursday, April 12, 2012

Sunset Gun by Dorothy Parker

The Maid-Servant at the Inn

I love this poem. I got to the second stanza and had to start over to make sure I was reading it correctly. I love the idea that she has written a poem from the point of view of a servant who witnessed the birth of Christ (at least, that is what I assume she witnessed). It is a novel approach to that story. To hear the birth of Christ without Him being the “Christ-child” is interesting. He is just a normal baby that was born in the barn. I love that she calls Him “his mother’s son”. Jesus is almost always referred to as “God’s son”. He is so deified that we forget He lived a regular life here on earth. He was a baby, child, and, yes, even a teenager (lovely how those years are left out of the Bible). I think Parker is portraying Jesus as God intended Him to be seen. God sent his son to live a perfect, sin-free life on earth, to live as a human. But, followers of Christianity are so caught up in Jesus being “God’s son” that we forget that he was also human. If we cannot see him as human, then why would we ever think that we could be like Him? If we cannot be like Him, then why should we strive to be good? Taking the humanity out of Jesus, in some ways, defies the whole example that He gave. I think it is refreshing and mind-stopping to represent Him as just a baby.


  1. How do you think that Dorothy Parker's Jewish heritage influences her portrayal of the Christian story in this poem? Do you think that the narrator takes up a typical ironic distance from the narrative, or do you think something different is going on?

    1. Parker's Jewish heritage makes complete sense from this point of view. The Jewish community do not recognize Jesus as the "Son of God". They believe that he is a messenger or prophet. So, it makes sense that the birth of Jesus would be no more special than any other birth.