The Deliverer – Tishani Doshi


  • Gender – Throughout this poem Doshi highlights the fact that in some cultures there is still inequality and discrimination against females. The baby in the poem is ‘abandoned’ because of the fact that she is a girl. It was undesirable to have a daughter, therefore girls were discarded like ‘garbage’ and the mothers were forced to try again until they got a son.
  • Gender – Girls are the submissive gender and mothers have been conditioned to have no attachment to their daughters – ‘toss’, ‘heap’ shows a lack of humanity, these girls are treated as inanimate objects.
  • Culture – While in some cultures being a girl was just like being ‘crippled’, in others such as America (as we see in this poem) a baby girl is seen as a gift and a chance for childless women to become a ‘mother’.


Tone of the poem

  • There is a tone of disconnect throughout the poem. I feel a lack of emotion from the speaker as if she has become numb from all of this hurt in her past. The fact that she refers to herself in the third person during some stanzas shows that she is distant from herself and I get the impression that she doesn’t know who she is or how to feel.
  • There is also ambiguity even from the very start of the poem, the use of the word ‘the’ in the title makes us readers question who this ‘deliverer’ is.



  • The asterisks between the stanzas act as a barrier/divide between the cultures.
  • There is a regular tercet structure, except in the last section where the speaker talks about life in Kerala.
  • The regular three lines so routine, however in her birthplace there is no routine.
  • The number of lines in the stanza could represent the amount of happiness and hope in the speakers life. At the end of stanza 1 and 3 there is only one line, which shows loss of happiness and hope.



  • The girls in this culture are objectified and seen as lifeless as seen through the way that they are ‘stuffed in bags’. These girls are not treated like humans.
  • There is also this reference to culture differences, the speaker has hope for her future as she is being adopted by Americans ‘so they know about ceremony and tradition’. This is ironic because America is still such a newly discovered country, therefore there cannot be traditions. However this girl just wants to believe that they know ‘about doing things right’.
  • We also get an intimate and physical insight into what effects the speakers past has done to her. She is always ‘plucking hair off hands’ as a way to cope maybe. Things like that are an indication of trauma.
  • There is also grotesque animal imagery used in this poem. Women ‘squeeze out life’ and ‘watch body slither out from body’. This reference to snakes shows that maybe these women are seen as unpredictable and unreliable, because of the fact that they have no control over the gender of their offspring.


Important quotes

‘head barely poking above the ground’

The fact that the girls head was still visible could have been done purposefully by her mother in hopes that she will be found. Although her real mother cannot be there, maybe someone else may want to save and raise her.

‘we couldn’t stop crying my mother said’

This shows a difference in culture because even though they just met the speaker (their adopted daughter), the mother already has tears of joy and loves the speaker. This shows that they just want a baby, no matter who or where this baby came from they will love her.

‘grows up on video tapes’

Looks at modern society, people use the TV as a babysitter to buy time for themselves. The speaker has become neglected as grows up on technology.

‘she returns to twilight corners’

The speaker has returned to that dark place she was at during her birth and beginning of her childhood. This feeling of neglect and worthlessness has resurfaced in her again.

‘squeeze out life’

This takes away the beauty and miracle of birth. These women are treated as reproducing machines. I get the impression that these women have become so used to this routine of reproducing that they do not allow themselves to connect or appreciate the birth of their baby in case of the unfortunate event that it is a daughter.


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