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How would you explain, in your own words, the "old woman's message" in the poem "The Old Woman's Message" by Kumalau Tawali?

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Wallace Field eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The old woman's message is a combination of information and a request: she speaks of how old and frail and thin she's become, and she asks that her sons, Polin and Manuai, return home to see her before she passes away. The old woman feels that her sons have forgotten her, and, in their absence, she has wasted away to practically nothing. Her hands, she says, are "like broomsticks," and her legs can fit into the hole of a very small animal, the sand crab. She sees the sons of other women returning to them, and she grieves, wondering why her sons should be different from theirs. What are her sons thinking in staying away so long? She cannot fathom it. However, as she grows weaker, "sway[ing] like a dry falling leaf," she hopes they will make it in time to be with her when she dies and to attend her wake.

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D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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write11,294 answers

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In this poem, an old woman is sending a message to her two sons that she would like them to come and visit her. She tells them she has gotten old and is ready to die. She says is she is dried out, withered and frail, so her sons should come and see her now. She calls her sons her fruit and says that other people's sons come back and visit them, so they should too. She feels neglected because her sons are so far from her. In her mind, they are a part of her, and she would like them to be there for her at the end, not for any money they might have, but simply because they are her children. The poem itself is her message to them, and to all sons and daughters, not to neglect their aged mothers.

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