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What are the major themes of the poem "Morning in the Burned House" by Margaret Atwood?

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The overriding theme is one of grief and how one handles it. The poem deals with two different aspects of grief: grief over lost innocence for the child the speaker once was and grief for the loss of loved ones.

In response to the deeply traumatizing events of her past, the speaker has chosen to handle her grief by remaining in denial and by retreating into a world of make-believe as a way of numbing the emotional pain that she continues to feel to this day.

An air of unreality hangs over the poem from the very first stanza, where the speaker tells us that she is eating breakfast in the burned house, even though there's no breakfast and no house. It would seem that the speaker, in attempting to deal with grief and loss, is thinking back to happier times before the terrible fire that destroyed her childhood and brought her so much pain and sorrow.

That the speaker is in denial over what happened that fateful day is further confirmed by the third stanza where she muses over the whereabouts...

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churiya | Student

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mohammadzai | Student

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mkcapen1 | Student

In Margaret Atwood's poem "Morning in the Burned House," the major theme is are grief.  She states that "there is no house nor breakfast."  She goes on to explain that nothing she is talking about exists now.  Everything has been damaged by fire and smoke.

The narrator is sharing memories of the house during better times.  One initially does not realize that she was in the fire as well.  It appears that the damage was only done to the house.  Everything else in the narrator's life seems okay.  However, she begins to tell

"The day is bright but songless." 

The reader becomes aware that she is sad.  Songless symbolizes lack of joy.  The fire has taken everyhting with it.  Nothing is the way that it once was.  The reader discovers that she had caught fire and her body was burned until it is no longer the body she once recognized.  Hwever, she finds some solice in thinking back on previous good times in the middle of her grief.