This poem “For Heidi with Blue Hair” is about a girl, Heidi, who was sent home for dyeing her hair blue. Even though she did not break any school rules by doing so, the headmistress insisted that she was only allowed to dye her hair in the school colours, grey, white and flaxen yellow. In my opinion, Heidi was a rebellious girl. In many places, dyeing of hair was not seen as a very appropriate thing to do, especially for a student. Also, her hair’s colour was being dyed “ultramarine on the clipped sides, with a crest of jet-black spikes on top”, this was somewhat a really rebellious thing to do in my point of view, as by doing this, she became different from everybody else, not following the trend.
When she “wiped your eyes”, she especially noted that they were also “not in a school colour”. It seemed to me that she wanted to rebel against the school purposely by not doing everything the school wanted her to do. Furthermore, when her dad called the school, he said that “she discussed it with me first- we checked the rules.” It seemed to me that she checked the school rules for loop holes in them before attempting to rebel, so the school could not do anything to her, and even discussed the matter with her parent, so the school could not say that she had done so without having parents’ consent. Also in the third last stanza, she told her dad that “it cost twenty-five dollars. Tell them that it won’t wash out, not even if I wanted to try.” This showed that she had purposely chosen to dye her hair in a more expensive and better way, so that it would not wash out.
The second half of the second sentence- “not even if I wanted to try” showed that she did not plan to even try to get the colour out of her hair; instead, she planned for it to stay on her hair for quite a long time. She had done all of these just to go against the school and her headmistress, and to do what she want while not letting the school punish her for it. Thus, in my opinion, she’s a very rebellious girl.
My other impression about the girl Heidi was that, she would do everything to get what she wants. Her main aim here seemed to me to be dyeing her hair blue to mock the school rules. First of all, before she even dyed her hair, she had checked the school rules and even discussed the matter with her dad; to know that the school would not be able to have any reasonable reasons to hold against her when they found out about her hair, since she had not broke the school rules.
After she was sent home, she cried to her dad about the incident, which feels really fake to me. It was as if she was just pretending to cry to make her dad sympathise her so that he would call up the school, and when he does, she wiped her eyes immediately, seeing that it would not have any more use. It to me as if she was specifically trying to use the soft spot her father seems to have for her, and also his freedom- loving personality to achieve what she wanted. Therefore, it seems to me that Heidi was the kind of girl who would use everything she has to achieve what she wants.
In the last two stanzas, my impression of Heidi did not change much, but there was still a little change. In the second last stanza, I realised that Heidi did not have a mother, and I started to pity her. I thought that maybe growing up without a female influence was why she had grown to be so rebellious. I also thought that she might not have always been like this, but her mother’s death had left her heart-broken and resulting in her turning rebellious. However, when she mentioned that “It was unfair to mention your mother’s death, but that shimmered behind the arguments”. It seemed to me that she tried to use her mother’s death as an excuse for her actions, and also to make the teachers pity her so that they would allow her to have her hair blue. I t again showed how she would make use of every excuse she has just to make the school allow her to dye her hair blue.
I t also showed how she would not take responsibility for her own actions, but would use any excuses possible. In the last sentence- “The battle was already won”, it seemed that she felt triumph as the school finally gave in. She described the incident as a war between her and the school over her blue hair, she did not felt grateful towards the school for allowing her to dye her hair blue, or reflect upon herself for going against the school’s wishes, instead, she felt happy and proud, and that she had just won the war. This again emphasized on her rebellious actions, showing that she felt that she had to fight and rebel against the school to win.
Through this poem, I felt that Heidi was a rebellious girl who would use any possible excuses and reasons she could use to achieve something she wants. My impression of her stayed mostly the same throughout except one part where I pitied her for losing her mother, but soon abandoned that thought as I realised that she was not heart-broken over the fact that she does not have a mother, but planned to use that as an excuse.
ii) What is the poet’s attitude towards the school system and how has she shown this? In this poem, For Heidi with Blue Hair, the poet Fleur Adcock’s language was full of precision and control, and she exudes a distinctive air of knowingness. It isn’t hard to guess that she was definitely on Heidi’s side, mocking the inflexible school system. In the second stanza, the headmistress noted that “although dyed hair was not specifically forbidden, yours was apart from anything else, not done in the school colour.”
This showed that Heidi’s school wanted the students to do follow the school’s fashion in everything they do and to be uniformed. Also, the poet phrased the sentence as “as the headmistress put it”, by phrasing it this way instead of “the headmistress said”, it gives the reader a sense that the headmistress saying something unreasonable and that she was trying to cover the loophole in the school rules such that Heidi’s blue hair would not be allowed.
Furthermore, in the second last stanza, the poet mentioned the “The school had nothing else against you ; teachers twittered and give in”. This seemed that when all the reasons were for Heidi and that the school could not find any more reasons to punish Heidi for, the teachers still “twittered” about it, not wanting to give in. The teachers still discussed about the incident when it was all very clear that they could not do anything to Heidi. Therefore, I felt that the poet’s attitude towards the school system was that it was rigid and inflexible and that she did not approve of this kind of school system.