Gertrude Stein's Tender Buttons Sparknotes

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Gertrude Stein’s work, Tender Buttons, confuses many as they are introduced to her. In The Problem with Pleasure’s chapter about Stein, Laura Frost admits that even the most experienced literary critics can struggle with reading Stein. To ease the mind, Frost explains a new way to view Stein’s work. She writes that a new approach to Stein is view it as a tickling sensation. While it does not fully explain the meaning of Tender Buttons, Frost’s idea of Stein tickling her readers gives a better understand of how to read Stein. Like tickling, Stein’s work is disjointed and random; it conveys a sense of intimacy, and one can find pleasure in the tedium. Frost argues that Stein’s work is disjointed and random. She writes, “Steinian pleasure is…show more content…
People do not tickle strangers. It goes against societal conventions. That may be another reason people struggle with Stein. They do not know her or her works well, but Stein writes as if she is having a conversation with a reader. She often uses the word “please” in Tender Buttons. Frost gives many example of where Stein says please and explains the significance by saying, “the entreaty ‘please’ is repeated, implying an interlocutor, but the addressee is not specified” (Frost, 72). “Please” is seen as an appeal to someone, but Stein is very vague about who. There is the idea that she is writing to a specific audience. While her true audience is unknown, she is usually read knowing there is an implied reader. In “Roastbeef”, Stein writes, “Please be the beef, please beef, pleasure is not wailing. Please beef, please be carved, please be a case of consideration”. (Stein, 24). Stein seems to be talking to someone, possibly hoping they made roast beef, but she could also be addressing the beef itself. Like before her tone fluctuates changing the idea of who or what she could be addressing. She seems to address someone, but to contradict the use of “please”, she does not use question marks. Frost writes, “The question mark, like the entreaty ‘please’, would suggest a direct address to another, but Stein prefers to keep this ambiguous” (73). In “A Fire”, Stein assumes the reader will understand her transparency. She declares, “What was the use of a whole time to send and not send if there was to be the kind of thing that made that come in” (Stein,13). Stein seems to be addressing someone, asking what the point of a certain action was, but she uses a period to end this sentence. That period can completely change what Stein is trying to say. It becomes unclear if she is truly asking a question or if she making a declaration. If it is a question, it implies that she is talking to someone, but

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