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Justify the title of the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling.

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rachnagoyal | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted August 22, 2011 at 6:31 PM via web

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Justify the title of the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 22, 2011 at 6:52 PM (Answer #1)

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Your question seems to want some kind of statement that supports the given title of this famous poem as opposed to any other title that could have been given. Well, starting off with the basics, "if" is a word that occurs many times throughout the poem, as a variety of characteristics that make a "Man" are presented and qualified. In a sense, the whole poem is an extended "if/then" construction, and the title draws attention to this. It is the last two lines of the poem that serve as the ultimate answer to all of the "if" statements presented in the poem:

Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

Achieving this state of manhood is therefore not a given; it is dependent upon a lot of hard work and working on character. This therefore is another reason why the conditional structure of "if" is used in this poem. Becoming a man or an adult as described in this poem is not an automatic process. The poem again and again stresses that it is a journey that takes considerable effort and time, and the "if" also implies that there are many who do not succeed. This is why the poem's title is excellent, as it draws attention to the central theme and construction of the poem and makes it very clear that becoming a true man is dependent upon many different aspects.

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