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What is the general attitude of the speaker towards his family and their chosen...

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vargas1978 | eNoter

Posted June 30, 2010 at 1:10 PM via web

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What is the general attitude of the speaker towards his family and their chosen livelihood in the poem "Digging?"

What does his family do for a living (their livelihood)?

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dymatsuoka | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 30, 2010 at 4:55 PM (Answer #1)

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The general attitude of the speaker towards his family and their chosen livelihood in the poem "Digging" is reverence. The speaker comes from a family of potato farmers, and he remembers his father "stooping in rhythm through potato drills...root(ing) out tall tops...to scatter new potatoes that we picked." The speaker marvels,

"By God, the old man could handle a spade.

Just like his old man."

The speaker's grandfather was also a potato farmer, and he brags that he could

"...cut more turf in a day

Than any other man on Toner's bog."

It is clear that the speaker is intensely proud of his family and their livelihood, and while he would like to follow in their footsteps, he cannot, having become a writer instead. The speaker realizes, though, that it is not the type of work that defines a man, but the effort and commitment that goes into it; he rests assured that by doing his best in his occupation as a writer, he can share in the legacy of hard work and dignity left by his father and his father before him.

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