In the first quatrain, Miniver Cheevy is described as a “child of scorn.” What is the narrator’s point in using this phrase?

Miniver Cheevy is a “child of scorn” because he scorns the modern world because it is not the world of the past. He is also a “child of scorn” because his behavior makes him worthy of scorn.

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In the first line of Edwin Arlington Robinson's poem “Miniver Cheevy,” the title character is described as a “child of scorn.” This actually has a double meaning. First, Miniver, with his focus firmly on the past, scorns everything modern. Second, Miniver himself, the poet suggests, is worthy of scorn.

Miniver scorns the world in which he lives. He loves “the days of old,” the days of medieval knights and ancient Romans, of bold warriors and prancing steeds and bright swords. Miniver dreams of these often and mourns that he was born in the wrong time. He loathes modernity and spends all his time thinking about the past and wishing he could be there instead of in the present, much-hated world in which he lives.

Miniver, however, is worthy of scorn, too, for all he does is think and complain and drink. He moans and cries, turns up his nose at the world around him, curses “the commonplace,” refuses to do his duty, and buries himself in alcohol. In other words, he is quite useless. Further, Miniver is a hypocrite. He claims to scorn gold, yet he seeks it, and when he doesn't have it, he is “sore annoyed.” Instead of working to make his life better, he wallows in his misery, and that, indeed, makes him a “child of scorn” in the eyes of the speaker.

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