The Marital Relationship in "Home Burial"
Critically discuss the relationship between the husband and the wife in Frost's "Home Burial."
I am sure you could imagine the pain that both were going through after the death of their child. Men and women grieve differently, which is emphasized in the poem through the man's and woman's actions and words. Women, stereotypically, are driven by emotion and are more at ease showing emotions; whereas, men have typically been portrayed as having to stay stoic and strong for their wives. An already strained marriage for this couple is now pushed to the breaking point because both cannot relate to each other's ways of grieving. I do not agree with the assessment of the man's character that is mentioned above. I merely saw him as a man who is grieving in his own way, not as someone who is callous and cold, necessarily. The wife, understandably, is upset with the husband for digging the grave so quickly and with such apparent ease.
I will provide a personal example of this very topic. When my sister, who was 34 at the time, had a massive heart attack and nearly died, my parents were devastated. They had a wonderful marriage, but my sister's near-death experience put a huge strain on them both. My dad did not deal with this experience in the same way my mother did. My dad found that by working out in the yard and keeping busy, he could cope with the sadness and pain he felt. My mother did not understand this and felt he was neglecting her and her way of coping. She wanted my father to always talk about the situation, but that was not my dad's personality or way. He was able to take out his anger and frustration and the "Why us's?" in his yard by doing strenuous stuff that kept him busy. Neither way of coping with heartache is wrong...just different.
Frost's "Home Burial" dramatises candidly the conflict between a husband and wife who are in the process of recovering from the loss of their first and only child.
The relationship between the husband and his wife Amy is strained to the extreme and results finally in Amy walking out of the house and the husband threatening to follow her and bring her back by force.
"YOU COULD'NT CARE" (line 101) :The husband is a cold unfeeling father who after digging the child's grave all by himself-was he trying to save money by not giving the child a regular funeral?- returned home and casually discussed the weather and its ill effects on the birch fence right there in the presence of the child's corpse.
The husband is obviously a selfish bully who tries unsuccessfully to stifle her natural maternal feelings and to keep her under his control. Amy however, makes her point loud and clear : "I won't have grief so/If I can change it." She then cries her heart out and leaves the house.
Although, they are husband and wife and physically intimate they are mentally and emotionally miles apart. The husband's hypocrisy is clearly evident in the mannner he pretends that he is hurt because she is inconsolable over the loss of her child: "To take your mother-loss of a first child/So inconsolably-in the face of love." By saying so, he tries to intimidate her by reminding her that he needs her love more than their dead child.