Poetry Analysis- Hudgins Essay, Research Paper
Analysis of “Elegy for My Father, Who is Not Dead”
Andrew Hudgins’ diction, point of view and tone used in “Elegy for My Father, Who is Not Dead” convey feelings of fear, jealousy and uncertainty in the possibility of an afterlife. The speaker, discussing the future death of his father, is forced to confront his own convictions as to the finality of death. All religions have a belief in a “life after death” in some form. Hudgins’ is pessimistic as to any form of a life hereafter. He is attempting to understand his father’s beliefs and the effect of the poem on the reader is to question one’s own faith and beliefs in a life hereafter.
The speaker has apparently placed serious thought on his father’s death and is attempting to alleviate his own fear of losing his father. An impression is given early that the matters of death and a life after death have been debated. The speaker is aware that “One day I’ll lift the telephone/and be told my father’s dead .” (1-2) He is seeking to find an answer to conquer his fear of losing his father. The fear of the speaker produces the stark contrast in the characters. Whereas the father is joyfully anticipating his own death, the speaker is not and will not entertain the notion “about the world beyond this world.”
By using a first person point of view, the speaker reveals the emotions produced within himself. He is unwilling to let his father die, although his father “[is] ready”.(2). ” I do not think he is right” (13) is the speaker’s response to his father’s ‘ new desire”(7) to move on to a better place. By attempting to discredit his father, the speaker is focusing the attention to
himself and his beliefs. A jealous attitude toward death, in that death is taking what belongs to him, is overshadowing the speakers’ judgment. He is jealous that his father is ready “to see fresh worlds. Or older ones” (9) and leave him alone in this life. Although he acknowledges his father has faith that they will on day be reunited, the author is unwilling to accept that belief.
The speakers’ tone is pessimistic in contrast to the optimistic view of his father in regards to the possibility of an afterlife. Hudgin’s questions his father’s faith by giving examples of his belief. ” .I can’t/just say good-bye as cheerfully/as if he were embarking on a trip/to make my later trip go well” describes the negative tone of the speaker. He states that his father will still be trying to help him, yet he will not allow himself to believe that is possible. Hudgin’s implies that death could also be a rebirth in that “[his father will] wrap me in his arms and laugh/the way he did when I arrived”. One wonders if the speaker is not trying to convince himself of the possibility of a life hereafter.
The speaker views death as an end by using the metaphor “his ship’s gone down “, (19) whereas his father views death as a new beginning for he and his son. When the speaker questions the uncertainty of life hereafter, he produces an opportunity for the reader to reflect and search his own beliefs. Each person, regardless of his race, nationality or financial status, will some day face death and the possibility of an afterlife. Hudgins entices each of us to search our own beliefs and resolve the matter in our own faith. Shall we look at death as an end or as a beginning of a new journey?