Wife Determining the Meaning s of Poem

Excerpt from Poem :

The poem focuses heavily on maternity and the fact that a woman is forced to live life day-by-day, with a different understanding of "good." For God, though, this respect again is usually interpreted as simple obedience. It is God's most basic definition of good, the one individual should not violate another -- that is the ultimate cause for the destruction of the cities, however, and Batey's lack of acknowledgment for this event seems to suggest that neither she nor Lot's wife can truly dismiss this transgression. Still, the single incident does not seem to warrant near-instant and outright destruction in human terms of "good."

It is this perspective that is most fully examined in Batey's poem. "Good in human terms," to Batey, means following the impulses of friendship and allegiance that get one through life, whether they are good or bad. Being good means understanding that mistakes are made, and being able to see the bigger picture in order to forgive and continue to co-exist with neighbors and friends despite these mistakes. Lust and sexual appetite are parts of human nature, as much as many Judeo-Christian sects try to deny this feature of existence, and though a simple abandon to impulsive living is not generally seen as "good," lapses of lust are typically the most easily forgiven, especially when goodness has been shown in many more pressing areas -- such as the childbirth that results from a certain sexual act.

There are also many less desirable elements of humanity that are nonetheless unavoidable aspects of human nature. It is part of human nature to kill in the defense of oneself, one's family, and one's home; is it not also part of human nature to grieve for the loss of any of these, as Lot's wife did? Lying and cheating are parts of human nature, too, and are far more self-serving yet more easily forgiven by God, it seems, than the direct disobedience of Lot's wife's regret. Another interpretation could see Lot's wife as pining primarily
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for the loss of her material wealth -- her physical house and the furniture, livestock, and other goods that the family was unable to pack up and take with them as they departed at dawn. This materialism is itself a part of human nature, as it provides security and a sense of place. Lot's wife turned back because ahead of her was a world that lacked both of these.

The judgment that Batey refers to is, of course, the fact that God has decided -- despite Lot's attempts at intervention -- to destroy the cities, whereupon Lot's wife "calmly begins to pack." Again, she is handling the event and the information in completely human and day-to-day terms, while Lot has been concerned with grander things. God had agreed that if ten innocent and righteous people could be found in the city of Sodom, the city would be spared; Lot and the angels failed to find even ten, and thus the judgment was delivered. While Lot was thinking of innocence and righteousness, however, his wife was remembering the support that her neighbors and her hometown had provided for her and her family. She was not seeing these people on God's terms, but rather from the very human terms of her own experience and perspective.

Ultimately, in Batey's version of events, Lot's wife "chooses to be human," following her own impulse of what is good, right, and natural rather than God's version of these things. She might not agree with everything that her neighbors have done, but she does not agree that it warrants their destruction, or that the day-to-day existence she now faces is worth the moral righteousness -- or self-righteousness that God and her husband Lot seem to see as inviolable. Her feelings come form the Earth rather than the heavens, and she notes that her needs would the same whether "Ba'al or Adonai" is the true God. The righteousness and good of heaven has little to do with actual human existence, she decides, and she chooses her own existence as human in the…

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