In the poem "Father Returning Home" by Dilip Chitre, how does the poet show that in old age people withdraw into an isolated lifestyle?

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Michael Ugulini | (Level 3) Educator

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In the poem "Father Returning Home”, by Dilip Chitre, the poet shows that in old age people withdraw into an isolated life-style in the following ways:

 

1. The father is tired on the commuter train and silent. He stares with ‘unseeing eyes’. It’s as if life has beaten him down somewhat and he’s now withdrawn himself from the people around him and the scenery outside the train as well. He’s absorbed in his own thoughts – oblivious to all around him in a way.

 

2. The father has a bag of books and this bag is falling apart. This represents that the father is more lax about taking care of his possessions. He may have been more concerned about his possessions and appearance when he was younger, but now he has let this slide. He’s living the isolated life as the question poses; he doesn’t really seem to care what others think of his appearance and the appearance of his belongings.

 

3. His eyes ‘dimmed by age’ are focusing on getting home – to peace and safety and rest. His eyes are not focused on the present circumstances around him on the train.

 

4. The father’s in a hurry. He wants to get away from work, the train, the commute, and just get into his home. This is his personal oasis away from the harsh world. He wants respite at home. Therefore, he longs to isolate himself in his home away from the sometimes drudgery of the world and the responsibilities he has to earn a living and maintain a family.

 

5. The father is not too concerned with what he’s eating (“a stale chapati’) and drinking (“weak tea’). He’s more concerned with hiding in the washroom, and burying himself in a book as well. In this way he does not have to communicate with others – in this case his children – who don’t attempt to joke or converse with him because they sense his isolationist mood.

 

6. The father doesn’t stay up with his family – or if he does – it is not for long. He’d rather go to bed and become absorbed in the sounds of his static-sounding radio. Here, in bed, he can hide from the world and dream of being nomad-like – in essence, in isolation - and traveling as he pleases with no constraints or responsibilities, or old-age infirmities holding him back.

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