In "Lucinda Matlock," what does the speaker mean when she says, it takes life to love life?
a. enjoying life is foolish.
b. people who do not enjoy life might as well be dead.
c. happy people never have problems.
d. only people who have never suffered are well mannered.
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All of the speakers of the poems in Spoon River Anthology are dead. They are speaking their own epitaphs, essentially speaking from beyond the grave. Lucinda Matlock has lived a full life. Her marriage lasted seventy years and she raised twelve children, eight of which died before she reached sixty years old. She has enjoyed life but clearly with eight of the twelve dying before her sixtieth birthday, she has endured her own share of tragedy. But, she notes how she embraced life, shouting to the hills and "singing to the green valleys."
This is why she's comfortable with dying at age ninety-six. She comments on the "sorrow and weariness" of the "degenerate sons and daughters." Her complaint is of the generations subsequent to her own. And one even gets the sense that she is addressing other people who are also dead, complaining about their past lives. Thus, she is responding to others in the cemetery. Her comment that "life is too strong for you" suggests that they could not cope with life's struggles or that they didn't embrace life fully enough to enjoy it. This could be the result of any number of causes: fear, laziness, immaturity, etc.
The last line means you need to live life to love it. You need to embrace and be full of life in order to love it. By complaining about life, one is avoiding enjoyment of life. So, the notion that "people who do not enjoy life might as well be dead" comes closest to Lucinda's meaning. But that does seem too harsh from someone who Masters intended to be a role model. The idea of embracing life, with all its ups and downs, seems more accurate in describing Lucinda's meaning than saying those who are complainers might as well be dead.
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