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Could I please have a summary of "If"?

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shubhangi23 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 7, 2012 at 3:46 PM via web

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Could I please have a summary of "If"?

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stolperia | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 7, 2012 at 5:33 PM (Answer #1)

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"If" is written as if a father is talking to his son, giving his son advice on the way to behave to obtain the reputation of being an outstanding citizen of the community and the world.

The pattern used to deliver this advice, followed consistently throughout the poem, is to contrast an action or way of relating to others that would be positive with one that would lead to negative consequences. The father is providing examples of actions that are desirable, as opposed to attitudes that would not serve the son well in building constructive relationships with others.

In all cases, the father urges his son to be generous and considerate in his attitude toward others, striving to do the best he can personally without demanding the same standard of others. "If" the son can succeed in following this advice, he will attain the goal of becoming "a Man" in possession of "the Earth and everything that's in it."

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