Parental Relationships in Poetry Essay

Parental Relationships in Poetry Essay

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Poem at 39 written by Alice Walker focuses on the relationship between a father and daughter. From the first line, “How I miss my father”, it is already clear that Walker loves her father and wishes to be with him, but he is absent. When she was born her father was “so tired”. It is not clear why he was, but it might have been from the burden of another mouth to feed or from debt. She wishes that he had not been as tired as he was, showing that she cares about him and possibly feels guilty for making him feel worse during the tough times. Some negative aspects are obvious in the poem when Walker states ‘To escape the life he knew’; with the word ‘escape’ emphasizing on the negativity as you would usually run away from something that is hurting you or something that you do not want. This conflicted and planned relationship is then changed once again as Walker jumps back to the line ‘How I miss my father’ suggesting a complete change of tone and mood as she returns to her original starting feelings. The entire second verse is about their relationship with money. Walker thinks of her father when “writing deposit slips and checks”, because he cared enough about her financial well-being to teach her how to manage her savings which is slightly out of the ordinary because at such a young age you wouldn’t expect a dad to be teaching his daughter such things. He “must have” given her the instructions, although the word “must” implies a little doubt and that she cannot clearly recall what he said. This suggests that it happened a long time ago, maybe when she was very young. Understandably so, this shows that money is important to both of them regarding their financial state back then as we know they struggled with money at the time. Even ...


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...parent-child relationship through the mother’s perspective. Hughes uses negative imagery, focused on light like ‘no light’ and ‘dark’, where the mother is begins by accepting the hardships of life instantly and trying to teach them. Although portrayed as a negative idea, it is also a positive as it is preparation, in contrast to Piano where Lawrence had to eventually face such hardships and due to his lack of preparation he was beaten easily. Hughes shows some methods of preparation in the poem through imperatives such as, ‘don’t turn your back’ where she is encouraging the child to always have faith and believe in himself-never giving up. Hughes follows an idea of an extended metaphor of life being a stair that is never ending in with obstacles trying to stop you, ‘splinters’, however as taught, you must keep going forward and have the will to beat the challenges.

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