Showing 501 - 510 of 627 annotations tagged with the keyword "Children"

Home Burial

Frost, Robert

Last Updated: May-07-2001
Annotated by:
Nixon, Lois LaCivita

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

The poem, a domestic epic, employs the convention of in medias res. The central issue, the death of a child, has not been addressed by the parents whose lives are in strange suspension. A staircase, where the action of the poem occurs, symbolizes both the ability of husband and wife to come together and the distance between them.

In their first discussion of this traumatic event, readers learn that the child was buried in the yard by the father during the New England winter, while the mother watched from a window in the staircase landing, stunned by her husband's steadfast attendance to the task. His energy and "carelessness" at a time when she was shaken and immobilized by grief was incomprehensible and infuriating. The husband, meanwhile, has grieved in a different way, reconciling the death of his child to fate and the caprices of nature.

When the poem opens, their separate interpretations and feelings finally are expressed, and each is surprised by what the other says. The husband speaks from the bottom of the stairs, she from a step just above the landing. Significantly, they don't come together on the architectural bridge and, when the poem concludes, readers are not assured that this marriage will regain the closeness it might have had prior to the child's death. The highly dramatic poem underscores the impact of loss and the need for communication or discussion of loss by those involved. When no reconciliation occurs, the loss intensifies to become destructive.

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Spring and Fall

Hopkins, Gerard Manley

Last Updated: May-07-2001
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

The poet addresses Margaret, a young child, who grieves over the falling of leaves at Goldengrove and the turning of seasons. She may not now be able to understand or name the source of her grief. When she gets older, though, and learns more of the world ("such sights colder / By and by . . . "), she will become less sensitive to external things and more aware of the true loss in human life--the loss of oneself. "It is the blight man was born for, / It is Margaret you mourn for."

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Reuben, Reuben

Harper, Michael

Last Updated: May-04-2001
Annotated by:
Shafer, Audrey

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

This poem concerns the poet's painful loss of his infant son: "a brown berry gone / to rot just two days on the branch . . . . " The anguish is raw and fierce. Throughout the poem emotion and music are intertwined. The poet reaches for a way to deal with his grief and finds a "music great enough" to offer solace and understanding: jazz.

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The Use of Force

Williams, William Carlos

Last Updated: May-03-2001

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction — Secondary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

A doctor is called to the home of a poor, immigrant family. A beautiful little girl is quite ill. As diphtheria has been going around, the doctor attempts to examine her throat. The girl, however, won't open her mouth. She fights him off and all attempts to cajole her into compliance fail. Yet, the doctor is resolved to see that throat. He forces the girl's father to hold her down, while he manages to wrest open her mouth after a long battle. She does, in fact, have diphtheria.

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My Papa's Waltz

Roethke, Theodore

Last Updated: Apr-23-2001
Annotated by:
Chen, Irene
Aull, Felice

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

A child recalls waltzing with his drunken father. His papa's breath stank of whiskey, his moves were clumsy and borderline abusive, and the son's love and fear caused him to cling to his father "like death."

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Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

No loud noise will wake the author's son ("For I can snore like a bullhorn . . . "), but the "stifled come-cry" of his parents' making love brings him to their bedroom, where he "flops down between us . . . his face gleaming with satisfaction at being this very child." The parents look at one another and "touch arms across his little, startlingly muscled body."

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Annotated by:
Aull, Felice

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

The life cycle of a townspeople and of one ignored couple, lyrically rendered in nine short stanzas. To stunning effect, Cummings employs reversed word order, almost-but-not-quite-nonsense sentences, play on words, and repetition. We get the coming and going of the seasons; the leading of lives, circumscribed, sometimes small-minded, monotonous.

But there is also yearning and dreaming, marriage, children, joy and hope. It may take several readings to realize that woven into the description of the townsfolk is the tale of a man and a woman, "anyone" and "noone", ignored or even reviled by everyone else. Only "children guessed" that they were falling in love--that "anyone’s any was all to her . . . . " Time passes, they die, they are buried next to each other, they become part of the earth and of the cosmos, "all by all and deep by deep . . . Wish by spirit and if by yes."

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the mother

Brooks, Gwendolyn

Last Updated: Apr-17-2001
Annotated by:
Stanford, Ann Folwell

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

The speaker begins by declaring that "Abortions will not let you forget," and goes on to problematize the question of aborted life. These are "singers and workers who never handled the air" and whom the mother ("you") "will never scuttle off ghosts that come." The speaker has heard in the wind the voices of her "dim killed children" and has suffered because of it.

She unequivocally looks at the fact that the children have been killed, cut off from life before having a chance to experience it. The speaker meditates (in direct address to the children) on the "crime" and whether it was hers or not, saying that "even in my deliberateness I was not deliberate," and declaring that despite her having "stolen" their births and names, that "I loved you all."

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In the Waiting Room

Bishop, Elizabeth

Last Updated: Apr-16-2001
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

The poet as a young girl sits in a dentist's office in Worcester, Massachusetts, waiting for her Aunt Consuelo, who is being treated. She looks at the exotic photographs in National Geographic magazines--volcanoes, pith helmets, "babies with pointed heads," and "black, naked women with necks / wound round and round with wire." The girl hears her aunt cry out in pain. Suddenly, she has a revelation, "you are an I, / you are an Elizabeth, / you are one of them," a person. In some mysterious way, they were all bound together, even the women with "those awful hanging breasts."[99 lines]

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Lying: A Metaphorical Memoir

Slater, Lauren

Last Updated: Apr-13-2001
Annotated by:
Belling, Catherine

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Memoir

Summary:

The first chapter of this memoir consists of two words: "I exaggerate." The narrator then tells us the story of her childhood and early adult experiences as an epileptic. After having her first seizure, at the age of ten, she spends a month at a special Catholic school in Topeka, Kansas, where the nuns teach epileptic children to fall without hurting themselves. This falling may or may not be literal; it is certainly symbolically apt.

During adolescence, Lauren begins lying, stealing, and faking seizures to get attention. She reveals that she has developed Munchausen's Syndrome, whose sufferers are "makers of myths that are still somehow true, the illness a conduit to convey real pain" (88). A neurologist, Dr. Neu, performs surgery severing Lauren's corpus callosum, effectively dividing her brain in half and markedly alleviating the seizure disorder.

Later she attends a writer's workshop where she begins an affair with a married man, a writer much older than she. After it ends badly, she starts going to Alcoholics Anonymous (although she does not drink) and tells her story with such authenticity that when she later confesses that she is NOT an alcoholic, no-one believes her, dismissing her true story as denial. The memoir ends both with her recognition of the value of narrating and with a silent fall to the snowy ground, as the nuns taught her to do, in the knowledge that the sense of falling (rather than the material certainty of landing) is all that is finally, reliably, real.

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