Impact of Death on a Relationship Explored in Home Burial by Robert Frost
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Robert Frost's "Home Burial" is a tragic poem about a young life cut short and the breakdown of a marriage and family. The poem is considered to be greatly inspired and "spurred by the Frosts' loss of their first child to cholera at age 3" (Romano 2). The complex relationship between husband and wife after their child's death is explored in detail and is displayed truthfully. Among many others, the range of emotions exhibited includes grief, isolation, acceptance, and rejection. The differences in the characters emotions and reactions are evident. The husband and wife in Robert Frost's "Home Burial" react to their son's death in stereotypical fashion and interact with each other with difficulty and resistance.
As the wife weeps constantly over the death of her son, the husband is more in control of the situation and is obviously the stronger of the two. Immediately, the husband assumes the stereotypical male role in this type of event. He buries the son, conceals his emotions, and offers to be there with support for his wife. Unlike his distruaght wife's methods, "His strategy for dealing with death and grief is to appeal to community standards and to larger natural continuities, and thus to avoid taking loss too personally" (Norwood 59). By behaving in this manner, he is able to accept the situation and begin to move on with life.
The husband does not in any way ignore the death of his son, but actually creates a continuous link to him. In order to unify himself, his son, and their ancestors; "He packages the family graveyard in comfroting language" (Norwood 60). He refers to those who have died as his people, and now his son is part of that group. This approach to looking at the dead displays that the husband has a large...
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...ll, he solidifies the fact that he needs her and cannot live without her.
Robert Frost is able to capture the intensity and sadness that accompanies this type of event by paying great attention to the detail and word choice. He is able to tell the story in a manner that the reader is immediately able to understand, but he also makes the reader think about what is going on. He makes the reader wonder why the characters are acting the way they are. He forces the reader to question the complex nature of grief and sadness that ultimately leads to the feeling of abandonment. The characters of the mother and father in this poem react to their son's death in their own ways, and these ways do not merge with each other.
Frost, Robert. "Home Burial." Robert Frost’s Poetry and Prose. Ed. Edward Connery Latham and Lawrence Thompson. New York: Holt. 1972.