“Home you don’t know how to speak”
“Home Burial” depicts a household of misery and miscommunication.As a husband and wife attempt to deal with the loss of a child, they loose eachother. Men live life more singularly than women, and immerse themselves in workand self-improvement. Women, on the other hand, tend to regard their family astheir life, and therefore live their life more collectively.
This differencecauses most men and women to think in different ways, and therefore feel unableto communicate or understand one another. Frost uses Amy and her husband’sstruggle to deal with the loss of their child to show the underlying yetultimate difference between men and women. “Home Burial” portrays afamily lost because of the failure to communicate, which underlyingly describesFrost’s opinion that there is an ultimate difference between a male’s tendencyto live individually and a female’s tendency to live collectively.Throughout the poem, Amy tries to have her husband understand her so thatthey may understand and cope together, yet when he fails to she gives up, thusbeing unable to deal with her loss herself. Amy continues to struggle with theloss of her child because she refuses to deal with the problem individually, asher husband has already done.
She seems to want to be consoled by him and havehim understand her grief, yet won’t let herself because of his outward attitude.She ultimately saw him as a “blind creature”(line 16) who was unableto see the graveyard, or the truth. When he tries to understand by looking outthe window she exclaims, “Not you!I don’t know rightly whether any mancan” (lines 36-38). In this sentence Amy recognizes the fact that accordingto her, men cannot rightly deal with a loss.
She believes his actions after thedeath of their child to be uncaring and unemotional. She doesn’t believe that hehas dealt with their collective loss because he hasn’t discussed his individualemotions. She feels like he in completely incapable of expressing himself,”you can’t because you don’t know how to speak” (line 71). Because ofhis unwillingness to express himself he did not have “any feelings”(line 72). This logic is, however, tainted because of her actual inability tounderstand his method of dealing with his feelings. It seems as though shewanted to deal with the loss together in the beginning, yet was appalled by his”rumbling voice” (line 81) speaking of “everyday concerns”(line 86). These “everyday concerns” however, were another failure tocommunicate and misunderstanding.
She was unable to see that his speech was ametaphor relating to the death of their child. “One is alone, and he diesmore alone” (line 101) is her philosophy, while her husband seesindividuality as a way of life. She believes that to be alone is abnormal andunhealthy, while he chooses not to deal with things collectively, but rather byhimself. Utterly frustrated and hopeless, she gives up her struggle to get himto understand and states, “You-oh, you think the talk is all. I mustgo-Somewhere out of this house. How can I make you–” (lines 112-113).
Sherealizes finally that she can’t make him know her emotions, and that he thinksthat by her talking individually that the grieving is over, when all she reallywants is to have talked about it together, to have grieved together, to havedealt with the loss together.Amy’s husband, seeming to his wife aloof and uncaring, individually dealswith the loss of his child. Rather than talking about his grief he chooses tobury the child, think, and move on. To Amy, this individual moving on iscompletely foreign. Her husband wants to think and remember, but not dwell.
Because he had moved on, he failed to notice the visibility of the child’sgravesite from their window. While Amy took this as a blatant disregard fortheir child’s death, he had stopped dwelling on his child’s death. He refers tothe child by using possessive statements such as “my people” (line 23)or “his own child” (line 35) rather than ‘their’, showing hisindividual relationship with the child. He doesn’t understand why Amy is sofrustrated and closed with him and tries to get her to talk about her feelingsyet when she refuses, he becomes frustrated with her, “You make me angryGod,what a woman” (lines 68-69)! He states, “don’t go to someone else thistime” (line 39) showing that he genuinely wants her to deal with it withhim, yet only discussing her feelings because his have already been dealt with.She, however, does not want to share her feelings with him; she wants theirfeelings to be discussed together.
Their conversation runs in circles ofmisunderstanding like this until she finally leaves.Their failure to communicate leads to these circles of misunderstandingbecause neither one will explicitly say how they feel. He wants Amy to deal withher loss alone, yet share her own feelings, while she wants him to deal with hisloss with her. This is impossible, however, because she doesn’t understand howhe could have possibly dealt with their loss alone. Because of this, she refusesto move on leaving them at a standstill. Amy leaves the house, leaving no hopefor reconciliation or understanding. Her husband stays there confused and aloneunable to see her desire to deal with the loss as a couple rather than as twoseparate people.
Through this relationship, Frost describes a difference in men and women thatcannot be reconciled as long as neither recognizes the other’s point of view.Frost shows typical male and female instincts and views of life. Women thinkcollectively and define themselves in terms of their family, while men tend tothink individually and define themselves in terms of their work or position.
“Home Burial” also describes this standstill that men and women facewhen they fail to communicate. One cannot fully understand the other whensituations are not explicitly spoken about. Amy wants to tell her husband how heshould act, and how he should feel. This, however, can’t be effectively donebecause she knows she cannot tell her husband how to be or how to feel. He alsowants to tell her how to deal with her own feelings and fails to recognize theway that she actually wants to deal with these feelings.
This conflict could bedealt with through communication, which in their case is done through fragmentedthoughts and phrases that do not help one another understand their feelings. Amyis disbelieving of his real desire to have her talk about their child’s death,while he is disbelieving of her actually ability to deal with their loss at all.This again goes back to their circles; they are unable to understand one anotherand are unable to make an effort to get to understand each other. This isbecause of their different ways of looking at the world. Frost shows them to beindicative of all men and women. They are unable to fully communicate because oftheir uncontrollable differences. They, like many others, cannot get out oftheir misunderstanding because they cannot communicate.
Frosts message throughthem then is that communication can solve these innate differences in men andwomen yet cannot always be effectively achieved.Category: English