Homework Help

Why does Bly use a hawk to symbolize his father in "Prayer for My Father"?How does that...

user profile pic

dcjo | Student, College Freshman | (Level 1) Honors

Posted January 4, 2011 at 9:23 AM via web

dislike 1 like

Why does Bly use a hawk to symbolize his father in "Prayer for My Father"?

How does that symbolism help Bly convey his message?

analyze the usage of hawk instead of using his father

1 Answer | Add Yours

user profile pic

lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted January 4, 2011 at 1:33 PM (Answer #1)

dislike 1 like

In order to answer the question you have to consider your various association with hawks.  What immediately should come to mind is their independent nature.  They are usually seen in solitary profile on a tree limb or other outpost.  They are exceptionally keen -- seeing even the smallest prey at a great distance.  They are expert hunters and fierce once they catch their prey.  They tear it apart and eat heartily.  They are strong, daring, patient, solitary, etc.  Now consider how those ideas and adjectives might apply to the father in the poem.  While many of those qualities are admirable, they may not be the most appropriate for a father son relationship.  There is a certain amount of ambiguity in this poem.  The son seems to admire his father, the "old hawk" and see in himself some of the same features as his father since he references the "young hawk."  Perhaps he appreciates what his father has instilled in him, but I think there could also be an element that suggests that he has struggled to have a good relationship due to the hawk's nature.

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes