What words in Robert Hayden’s “Those Winter Sundays” suggest the son’s feelings toward his father and his home? How does his attitude change?
In Robert Hayden's “Those Winter Sundays,” a son looks back on his memories of his father with new insight and even some regret. Let's look at this in more detail to get you started on your essay.
The speaker focuses in on a particular set of memories, namely, cold Sunday mornings. He remembers how his father used to get up and dress in the cold, with his hands aching from all his hard work, and to make the house warm for the rest of the family. He would not call the family until the “rooms were warm.”
The speaker did not appreciate his father's efforts at the time. In fact, he seems to have been angry with his father. He would get up and dress, but he feared the “chronic angers of that house.” This does not seem to have been a happy family. There was conflict at home. We do not learn the nature of it, but the speaker apparently blamed his father for it, for he spoke only “indifferently” to his father. He did not thank him for warming the house or for polishing his shoes. There was no appreciation in the speaker as a boy.
Yet now the speaker realizes exactly what his father did for the family. Look at the poem's last two lines: “What did I know, what did I know / of love's austere and lonely offices?” The speaker implies that he knew nothing of such things as a child, but he does now. There is regret here and guilt, too. Notice how he repeats the question. Looking back, probably as an adult, he understands the situation more clearly. He realizes that his father's actions showed his love even if his words did not.