Discuss how James Patrick Kinney's "The Cold Within" demonstrates our lack of feelings for others.  

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

James Patrick Kinney's “The Cold Within” demonstrates our lack of feelings for others in showing that some people would rather die than give up their prejudices or act in a way that goes contrary to those prejudices.

In the poem, six people are trapped in the cold. Each has a...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

James Patrick Kinney's “The Cold Within” demonstrates our lack of feelings for others in showing that some people would rather die than give up their prejudices or act in a way that goes contrary to those prejudices.

In the poem, six people are trapped in the cold. Each has a stick of wood, and each refuses to place that wood on the fire. No one wants to benefit any of the others, because he holds resentment against one of the men sitting around that dying fire. One doesn't like it that another man is Black. Another balks because one man is not of his religious faith. Another has issues with the rich. Another has issues with the poor. The Black man does not want to help anyone white. The last man won't do anything if he isn't paid for it.

So they all sit around the fire, watching it go out, and then they die because they can't move past their feelings and use their reason. They cannot accept each other for who they are and learn how to work together. They are caught up in their prejudices and their hatred.

This poem is designed to make us think about ourselves. We may argue that we would never do something like the men in the poem did. But we probably have shut out other people simply because we don't like something about them. Think of kids in school shunning another kid who happens to be different. They don't even really know that kid, but they have already made up their minds that they don't like them. There is no reason in this. It is all baseless feelings that get out of hand. There is a coldness that can chill and even kill the one shut out. This is what Kinney is trying to get us to see in this poem.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on