What does the author teach us about our childhoods in "Morning in the Burned House"?

In "Morning in the Burned House," the author teaches us that our childhoods were valuable and that we will never experience the same again once we have grown up. For example, childhood to the author means safety, security, a sense of belonging, and health. All of these aspects are a lot less certain once a person has grown up.

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"Morning in the Burned House" is a poem written by Margaret Atwood. In this poem, the speaker is reminiscing about their childhood. The poem is written from a first person perspective, and the speaker is mourning the loss of their childhood and their innocence, as well as the loss of their loved ones. We can see that the poem teaches us that childhood is something we all lose, and that we mourn when it is gone. We can easily see this through the metaphor of the "burned house": the burned house represents the speaker's childhood, which no longer exists, as the speaker has grown up: like a burned down house, the speaker's childhood only stands in ruins; the speaker only has memories left to keep it alive.

In order to help you answer your question, I would like to suggest you focus a bit more on the metaphor of the burned-down house. This painful image very much suggests that the speaker laments the loss of their childhood, as it has been destroyed. This tells us that the author sees the childhood as something very valuable, which causes a massive sense of loss when it is gone, just like a house when it has been destroyed.

You could also interpret the fact that a house is usually seen as a safe place, a home, as a metaphor for the fact that childhood also gave the speaker a sense of security. When they were a child, they had their parents looking after them and keeping them safe and secure—but now, as an adult, they are all by themselves and have just the memories of this. Therefore, the poem also teaches us that in childhood we have the luxury of feeling safe and secure, of having a clear sense of belonging. In adulthood, however, we cannot take this for granted any longer.

The poem also teaches us to value our childhood health a bit more, as with age, our body changes and we are not as healthy as we used to be as children. Just like us, our bodies change, and this is often not for the better, the older person says:

including the body I had then,
including the body I have now.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
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