What is the meaning of Harold Arnetts epitaph in spoon river anthology

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stolperia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Harold Arnett's epitaph in Spoon River Anthology summarizes the last few moments of his life. He perceives himself as a "failure" - he doesn't go into detail as to why he thinks this of himself, but he is despondent and beyond hope.

When the "violent voice" of his wife interrupts his thoughts and he recognizes that even the potatoes being prepared for lunch are another failure, he can't cope any longer. He raises the gun and shoots himself.

Too late, he realizes that he has failed yet again, because he doesn't really want to die after all. "Unspeakable regret...fumbling for the world again" - he tries to stop himself from dying, without success.

Harold concludes his epitaph wishing he could breathe, commenting that his lungs are perfectly capable of breathing except that this in not possible in the place where he now finds himself. He concludes that his suicide was a waste, that "the eternal destiny of life" is death and that "to rid one's self of the world" is useless.

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Spoon River Anthology

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