The Wanderer Questions and Answers

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What does the author of the poem "The Wanderer" miss most?

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In examining "The Wanderer," it's important to understand its wider social and historical context. At that time and in that culture, individualism as we understand it today didn't really exist. Everyone had a certain role to play in Anglo-Saxon society, and the most important role was that of a warrior. Completely cut off from his society, the wanderer is effectively a non-person, a man without a place in any society. His nostalgia for his youth, when he participated in joyful banquets at the mead-hall, is a hankering after the sense of identity which he once had but has now been lost forever.

The wanderer also misses his kinsmen, the members of his extended family. In Anglo-Saxon culture, the family provided each individual with a sense of belonging. Blood ties were incredibly important in this society, and so we can see why the wanderer laments his estrangement from those who mean the most to him. Deprived of contact with his kinsmen, the wanderer is now somewhat less of a man, and this, more than anything else, causes him immense sorrow.

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Twice the speaker in "The Wanderer" mentions the loss of dear friends and confidants. In lines 9 through 16 he laments not having anyone to tell the troubles of his heart and mind to. His suggests that it is the way of the warrior to unburden his thoughts to his dearest friends because a "Weary mind" can not withstand the ills of "fate" nor can a "troubled thought" provide "help" to anyone (15, 16).

Later on in the poem, near the end, the Wanderer says the wose mind remembers many wars and because of his recollections he asks where are the "horse ... the young warriors ... the gift-giver ... the feast seats .. the hall joys" and the "bright cup" of flowing wine. From these two excerpts, it seems that the thing the Wanderer misses the most are the beloved friends and family who know his heart, who listen to his troubled thoughts, and who give him his joy.

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