Circles Of Misunderstanding Essay, Research Paper
"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 each
other. Men live life more singularly than women, and immerse themselves in work
and self-improvement. Women, on the other hand, tend to regard their family as
their life, and therefore live their life more collectively. This difference
causes most men and women to think in different ways, and therefore feel unable
to communicate or understand one another. Frost uses Amy and her husband’s
struggle to deal with the loss of their child to show the underlying yet
ultimate difference between men and women. "Home Burial" portrays a
family lost because of the failure to communicate, which underlyingly describes
Frost’s opinion that there is an ultimate difference between a male’s tendency
to live individually and a female’s tendency to live collectively.
Throughout the poem, Amy tries to have her husband understand her so that
they may understand and cope together, yet when he fails to she gives up, thus
being unable to deal with her loss herself. Amy continues to struggle with the
loss of her child because she refuses to deal with the problem individually, as
her husband has already done. She seems to want to be consoled by him and have
him 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 unable
to see the graveyard, or the truth. When he tries to understand by looking out
the window she exclaims, "Not you!?I don’t know rightly whether any man
can" (lines 36-38). In this sentence Amy recognizes the fact that according
to her, men cannot rightly deal with a loss. She believes his actions after the
death of their child to be uncaring and unemotional. She doesn’t believe that he
has dealt with their collective loss because he hasn’t discussed his individual
emotions. She feels like he in completely incapable of expressing himself,
"you can’t because you don’t know how to speak" (line 71). Because of
his unwillingness to express himself he did not have "any feelings"
(line 72). This logic is, however, tainted because of her actual inability to
understand his method of dealing with his feelings. It seems as though she
wanted 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 to
communicate and misunderstanding. She was unable to see that his speech was a
metaphor relating to the death of their child. "One is alone, and he dies
more alone" (line 101) is her philosophy, while her husband sees
individuality as a way of life. She believes that to be alone is abnormal and
unhealthy, while he chooses not to deal with things collectively, but rather by
himself. Utterly frustrated and hopeless, she gives up her struggle to get him
to understand and states, "You-oh, you think the talk is all. I must
go-Somewhere out of this house. How can I make you–" (lines 112-113). She
realizes finally that she can’t make him know her emotions, and that he thinks
that by her talking individually that the grieving is over, when all she really
wants is to have talked about it together, to have grieved together, to have
dealt with the loss together.
Amy’s husband, seeming to his wife aloof and uncaring, individually deals
with the loss of his child. Rather than talking about his grief he chooses to
bury the child, think, and move on. To Amy, this individual moving on is
completely 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’s
gravesite from their window. While Amy took this as a blatant disregard for
their child’s death, he had stopped dwelling on his child’s death. He refers to
the child by using possessive statements such as "my people" (line 23)
or "his own child" (line 35) rather than ‘their’, showing his
individual relationship with the child. He doesn’t understand why Amy is so
frustrated and closed with him and tries to get her to talk about her feelings
yet when she refuses, he becomes frustrated with her, "You make me angry?God,
what a woman" (lines 68-69)! He states, "don’t go to someone else this
time" (line 39) showing that he genuinely wants her to deal with it with
him, 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 their
feelings to be discussed together. Their conversation runs in circles of
misunderstanding like this until she finally leaves.
Their failure to communicate leads to these circles of misunderstanding
because neither one will explicitly say how they feel. He wants Amy to deal with
her loss alone, yet share her own feelings, while she wants him to deal with his
loss with her. This is impossible, however, because she doesn’t understand how
he could have possibly dealt with their loss alone. Because of this, she refuses
to move on leaving them at a standstill. Amy leaves the house, leaving no hope
for reconciliation or understanding. Her husband stays there confused and alone
unable to see her desire to deal with the loss as a couple rather than as two
Through this relationship, Frost describes a difference in men and women that
cannot 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 think
collectively and define themselves in terms of their family, while men tend to
think individually and define themselves in terms of their work or position.
"Home Burial" also describes this standstill that men and women face
when they fail to communicate. One cannot fully understand the other when
situations are not explicitly spoken about. Amy wants to tell her husband how he
should act, and how he should feel. This, however, can’t be effectively done
because she knows she cannot tell her husband how to be or how to feel. He also
wants to tell her how to deal with her own feelings and fails to recognize the
way that she actually wants to deal with these feelings. This conflict could be
dealt with through communication, which in their case is done through fragmented
thoughts and phrases that do not help one another understand their feelings. Amy
is 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 another
and are unable to make an effort to get to understand each other. This is
because of their different ways of looking at the world. Frost shows them to be
indicative of all men and women. They are unable to fully communicate because of
their uncontrollable differences. They, like many others, cannot get out of
their misunderstanding because they cannot communicate. Frosts message through
them then is that communication can solve these innate differences in men and
women yet cannot always be effectively achieved.