Even in the closest of relationships, the death of a baby can separate and form a wedge between a husband and wife. Husbands and wives tend to handle the process of mourning differently, not only because of the differences between male and female, but also because of personality and the social molding in one's upbringing. In the poem, "Home Burial," Robert Frost gives a glimpse of the conflicts caused by non-communication and misunderstanding between a husband and wife upon the death of their first and only child. Their conflict is rooted in part in the husband's selfishness, revealed by his insensitivity, narrow-mindedness, and pride.
The husband's selfishness is reflected in his unconscious insensitivity to his wife's feelings. The death of a child is extremely hard for anyone to deal with, but it seems to be an impossible task for the man's wife Amy. Even in just walking down the stairs from a window overlooking their family graveyard, her frequent "Looking back over her shoulder at some fear" (3) is a sign of Amy's inability to let go of her emotional hurt. The husband seems to be blind to her concern, for he has to ask her, "What is it you see / From up there always?for I want to know" (6?7). It is not until he goes to the window and looks out for awhile that he finally makes the connection that his wife is hurting from the sight of ". . . the child's mound?" (30). Amy tries to run away from confrontation with her grief, for she ". . . slid[es] downstairs; And turn[s] on [her husband] with . . . a daunting look, . . ." (32?33). The air between them might have begun to clear if her husband had not lost his temper and lashed out saying, "Can't a man speak o...
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...ring you back by force. I will!?" (116). His prideful male instinct of leadership cannot take her rebellion, and her assertive independence takes her right out the door.
The difficulty of men understanding women and women understanding men can probably be traced back to creation. When life adds such things as death on top of individual personality traits, the balance in a marriage often teeters. In his personal views and ideals, the husband in Frost's poem has begun to build a brick wall between Amy and himself. Since his understanding of Amy and her grief has not moved beyond the point of self, he might be close to placing the last brick in the wall.
Frost, Robert. "Home Burial." Introduction to Literature: Reading, Analyzing, and Writing.2nd ed. Ed. Dorothy U. Seyler and Richard A. Wilan. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice, 1990. 144?47.
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