lots Wife

The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is one that is related in churches to
emphasize why one should attempt to remain sinless. Sodom and Gomorrah were two
Cities of the Plain. It is recorded that these two cities were completely
corrupt in everything. Not only in sexual perversions, but in money and
sacrilege as well. God warned Lot and his family that they would be spared of
the fire and brimstone, and so they fled. However, Lot’s wife made the
decision to look back at the burning city and subsequently turned into a pillar
of salt. This decision is the topic of Kristine Batey’s poem, “Lot’s Wife”.
Batey’s poem takes the view of an obedient woman who does all the housework,
takes care of the children and follows where her husband leads. The distinctive
diction and syntax aid Batey in revealing her thoughts on this tale from the
Bible.

Batey uses several unique devices to make her poem what she wishes it to
become. She uses parallel words to help make the distinction between Lot and his
wife’s focuses. For example, “While Lot, the conscience of a nation, /
struggles with the Lord, / she struggles with the housework.” Lot’s focus
here is religion and God. However, his wife makes sure the house is clean, and
the children are taken care of. While Lot and his wife focus on different things
in life, it is ultimately Lot who makes the decisions.

Batey is careful in her word choice. In line 5 she calls Sodom the “City of
Sin”. This is to emphasize that Lot and his family are the only righteous
people in the community. God makes it known to Lot by angels that the city will
be burned to the ground. When Lot tells his wife, she quietly begins to pack.
Batey uses the word “judgement” when telling this. Judgement is finality.
This serves to foreshadow not only the end of the city, but ultimately the end
Lot’s wife’s life. In line 35, Batey uses the word “breast” to refer to
the top of a hill. From this hill, it can be inferred that the heat from the
city and the sounds of it burning could still be felt and heard. Not only that,
but it would give a perfect view of the city that had once been home. Lot’s
wife, at this point, chooses to turn and look back at her home once more.
Although she had been warned that she would not live if she did so, Lot’s wife
could not bear to leave without saying good-bye one more time. This had been her
home. Not only that but she was not as religious as her husband. This is found
in line 6, “Ba’al or Adonai-/whoever is God”. Through this, Lot’s wife
seems to be indifferent to religion and is more focused on making her and her
family’s life as happy as possible. Lines 29-33 state “It is easy for eye
that have always turned to heaven / not to look back; / those that have been-by
necessity-drawn to earth / cannot forget that life is lived from day to day”.
Once again, Lot’s wife realizes that whatever the sins of Sodom, it was her
home as she saw it. With this, she turns and becomes a pillar of salt.

The syntax of the poem is also important. Batey uses a number of dashes
throughout the poem. She uses them to show a break in thought. It’s as though
thoughts of religion break into the daily life and chores of this woman. She has
too much to worry about to give thought to the afterlife. Another distinctive
syntax is the question in the middle of the poem. “Well and good to condemn
your neighbor’s religion; / but weren’t they there / when the baby was born,
/ and when the well collapsed?” Lot’s wife doesn’t see the evil of the
city because she sees the good that the people have done for her. Although she
chooses to follow Lot physically, she doesn’t understand the reasoning behind
God’s decision. As she walks away from her life, she doesn’t turn back
because she is as evil as the city; she turns back because she loves her home.
The final dash occurs in the last sentence. Lot’s wife “turns, in farewell-
/ and never regrets / the sacrifice.” She has to be true to herself. If her
home and friends are to die then she should be truthful and die with them.

Kristine Batey wrote this poem to express her idea that