Forgiving My Father Analysis

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An Explication of “forgiving my father” When I first read “Forgiving My Father,” by Lucille Clifton, I was confused about the meaning of the poem. I thought that it was going to be about her forgiving her father, but I never noticed her actually forgiving her father. By analyzing the overall message, the diction, and the structure of “forgiving my father,” I realized that she never did forgive her father. Although she tried to forgive him, there was too much hate, and eventually she walks away from his grave. The diction that Clifton uses in the poem is very interesting. For example, Clifton never capitalizes a single word, not even in the title. This shows that she does not feel that the words are important enough to emphasize, even…show more content…
The structure that stands out to me the most is how she uses enjambments in lines thirteen and line sixteen. The enjambments draw attention to what is said in the line in a way that makes you think about it. For example, “you gave her all you had,” “all you had,” makes the reader notice that the father did not save any of the money that he made for his daughter (14-16). Clifton also does not use any set meter or rhyme in “forgiving my father.” I believe that she does this because poems with end line rhymes draw the readers attention to the rhyme scheme and takes there attention away from the intended purpose of the poem; Clifton does not want us to look for the next rhyme she wants us to read the poem and think about the deeper meaning of the poem. The reader discovers the true meaning of the poem when they find the shift in line…show more content…
The main reason for this is because I read the poem expecting to read about a woman who forgave her father for some wrongdoing that he had done, but that is not what I got from the poem. The poem starts out with telling how the money was stretched thin and that they lived from paycheck to paycheck. Then it moves on to tell that the narrator’s mother died at a young age. This is shown when in line six it says, “my mother’s hand open in her early grave.” This lead into the narrator telling us that the father was an adulterer, and that he and his wife had an unhappy marriage. The daughter seemed to be trying to forgive her father for all of this, but she was not succeeding. In line twenty-one the poem shifts from the woman trying to forgive her father to asking herself why she is at his graveside trying to forgive him. She realized that her father and mother were dead and that noting she could would change that. To me it seems that she never did forgive her father for what he did but she wished that she had when he was still
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