Journal of the Faculty of Humanities and Human Sciences;Volume 18


“The One Who Find Our Way:” The Internal Otherness in Adrienne Rich's “Diving into the Wreck”

Shirai, Nana

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JaLCDOI : 10.14943/jfhhs.18.1


A diving journey through Adrienne Richʼs poem “Diving into the Wreck” (1972) reveals a process of metamorphosis that requires humansʼ internal otherness. The otherness corresponds to the human ability to metamorphose and acclimatizes to unfamiliar situations; additionally, such a transboundary experience affects the diverʼs cognition of gender, and makes them aware of their own nonbinary gender. In the poem, a nondetermined-gender human diver employs instruments, including scubadiving gears, to explore the underwater wreck. While descending to the bottom of the sea, the diver becomes aware of their otherness through the needlessness of the tools, their own behavior, and body function.1 In her notes and poems, Rich mentions her circumspection about gender representation. In the 1970s, Sandra Bem, a feminist psychologist, studied psychological androgyny as a possible ideal human figure. When Diving into the Wreck was published in 1973, many critics saw the title poem in the book describe an androgynous diver; however, Rich has since refuted this perception in the next collection of poems. Later, Bem also reexamined her indicator of sex differences due to her concern with gender polarization. A gender narrative in “Diving into the Wreck” needs reconsideration. The final stanza of the poem reveals that a wreck is a place that the diver had always known and returned to; thus, the wreck represents where to start the journey not the goal. The internal plurality in “the one who find our way” (CP 373) is appeared at the surface of the poem because of its grammatical discrepancy. This study argues that the metamorphosis reveals the internal otherness and gender cognition during an adaptation to an uncanny place for humans.