The Old Woman's Message

In the poem "The old woman's message" by Kumalau Tawali, do you think the speaker is happy with her sons' behavior? Why, or why not? Quote from the poem to support your argument.

Expert Answers
teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The old woman is not happy with her sons' behavior, because they are neglecting her. She writes the poem as a message, telling them to come visit. The first line makes this clear:

Stick these words in your hair 
And take them to Polin and Manuai 
my sons ... 

She goes on to say:

 my sons, forgetful of me... 

Her sons are so forgetful of her that the old woman needs other people to bring them the message that she wants to see them. She seems to have no other way to contact them to make them understand how close she is to dying.

The woman says that other sons come back to their mothers. She explains that she doesn't have much time before she dies and that she wants her sons to visit her soon:

I have little breath left 
to wait for them. 

In the last part of the poem, she describes how she is suffering: she is old and withered and dried up and she cannot see:

I sway like a dry falling leaf 
I see with my hands – 

She says they must hurry to arrive in time for her "death feast." These are not the words of a woman happy with her sons' behavior but of a woman wishing they would behave differently and pay attention to her.