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Please help me with "The Root Cellar" by Roethke.  I need help with the questions...

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daniel42634 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Honors

Posted November 8, 2009 at 12:27 PM via web

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Please help me with "The Root Cellar" by Roethke.  I need help with the questions below...

Describe the images he is giving us and determine what is his tone. Note: he uses several words like dank, drooped, stinks and obscenely. You must decide if he is rejecting the root cellar (and its contents) or if the negative words are over turned by the last line. Make your case and support it based on the text of the poem.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 8, 2009 at 11:10 PM (Answer #1)

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The tone of the poem is clearly negative.  You can see this in Roethke's use of words such as "obscenely," "mildewed" and "dank."  All of these words have a very negative connotation.

I would argue, however, that the negative tone is meant to be a contrast to the real meaning of the poem.  The poem's real meaning, to me, is that no matter how bad things are, life still continues.

In fact, the beginning and the ending are actually kind of uplifting.  Nothing is giving up at the beginning -- the bulbs are looking for a way to break out of captivity and live.  And things are succeeding -- maybe he doesn't like the way they look like snakes and all, but they are alive and flourishing.

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