Mutual Recognition In “The Semplica Girl Diaries”

In George Saunders’ short story, “The Semplica Girl Diaries,” Jessica Benjamin’s theory of mutual recognition is explored. In this story, Saunders fashions a world similar to the one we live in today. The one major difference, however, is that it has become popular for wealthy people to have “Semplica Girl Arrangements,” where girls from underprivileged countries are strung up by their heads as a form of lawn décor.

Saunders’ story follows a family who recently came into wealth after winning the lottery, and has bought four Semplica Girls. One of the children, Eva, is the only one who sees anything remotely wrong with society’s usage of Semplica Girls. In a piece of artwork, Eva drew her family’s four Semplica Girls with speech bubbles saying, “OUCH! THIS HURTS,” “THANKS LODES,” and “WHAT IF I AM YOUR DAUHTER.” She then, in an act of bravery, releases the Semplica Girls in the middle of the night.

Eva is the only one who has recognized the Semplica Girls as something other than objects. She sees them as human beings, not as simply lawn decorations. Even though she is the one in a position of power, she chose to equalize the power dynamic and allow the Semplica Girls freedom. We are not told, however, if the Semplica Girls also recognized Eva, to complete the circle of recognition. 

Though Eva appears slightly naive in that she released the girls into the night with no plan of where they would go, or how they would survive, and cost her family $8,600, her intentions were good. She witnessed something that didn’t sit right with her, and she chose to fix that thing. Her bravery is admirable.

3 thoughts on “Mutual Recognition In “The Semplica Girl Diaries”

  1. lucy b

    I agree with your take on Eva reaching mutual recognition by recognizing the SGs as humans and freeing them. I also believe she’s admirable because she resisted societal ‘norms’ at such a young age which is difficult to do.


  2. Owen S

    I never thought of Eva and the SGs having mutual recognition, but you make a good point. I like how you talked about her bravery but also how it wasn’t the smartest of plans. I find it interesting how she is the one child who really cares about how the SGs are treated but she is able to convince her siblings to help her free them and that also shows bravery and how she is willing to act to achieve mutual recognition.


  3. Estefania L.

    I agree with your take on mutual recognition in Semplica Girls. I also thought that Eva’s actions in the story were brave and I find it interesting that she is able to recognize that the concept of SG girls is wrong even though everyone around her does not see anything wrong with it.


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