Essay on The Boy

Words: 972
Pages: 4

The Boy and His Family Relationships In a sort of short story style, Marie Howe illustrates a depleting family relationship between a father and his children in the poem, “The Boy,” through its many symbols. With no discernible rhyme scheme, the plot develops, climaxes, and concludes alluding to a short story but in poetic form. The speaker, discovered through clues within the poem, is the younger sister of the boy and she is listening and learning from the examples set by her brothers. There is no mention of a mother so the focus is kept on the relationship between the father and children. Opening the poem is a description of the setting and it begins to set up the solemn tone: “My older brother is walking down the sidewalk into the …show more content…
Although the father said no punishment would be given, the boy knows this is a lie as he walks alone and ahead of the others: “And my brother will walk ahead of us home” (14). Although a haircut is not harsh punishment for running away, it is harsh enough for the boy to go mute: “and my father will shave his head bald, and my brother will not speak to anyone the next month, not a word, not pass the milk, nothing” (14-16). The silence indicates the emptiness and desolation within this kinship. It also expresses the rebelliousness against the father for forcing him to cross the threshold, perhaps when he is not yet ready. The poem concludes by further describing the hollowness within the family structure: “What happened in our house taught my brothers how to leave, how to walk down a sidewalk without looking back” (17-18). From these lines, it is implied that many of the other siblings have left due to the father’s strict discipline. The symbolism of “sidewalk” here is clearly defined as the path of life. The girl learns a lesson through these repeated events taking place in her home life – the discipline of the father having pushed his sons away – and solidifies the gender differences in the father’s child rearing: “I was the girl. What happened taught me to follow him, whoever he was, calling and calling his name” (19-20). She learns to follow her brothers’ path and to live her own life, free from the restrictions of her