What is the theme is Li-Young Lee's poem "Eating Together"?

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As the previous educators have said, there is more than one theme to be identified in this poem. To me, the one that seems to run through the whole poem like a thread is the theme of family unity and continuity, even in the face of death. The simile at...

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As the previous educators have said, there is more than one theme to be identified in this poem. To me, the one that seems to run through the whole poem like a thread is the theme of family unity and continuity, even in the face of death. The simile at the end of the poem describes how the speaker's father "lay down to sleep / like a snow-covered road," meaning that he has died, but the imagery of sleeping and softly-fallen snow suggests that he has done so very peacefully. His death has not occasioned a break between either the father and his family or the father and his ancestors -- rather, he sleeps like a "road," a path which connects the future and the past. He is not lonely, and indeed he is "winding through pines older than him," perhaps a suggestion that those who have died before him -- his ancestors -- are also with him. He is the road that connects the future and the past, and his death is merely another step along that road.

At the same time, the living family the father has left are connected to him through the food they consume, their shared heritage. Just as the father once ate "the sweetest meat of the head" when the family ate trout, now the speaker's mother eats this particular delicacy. Alongside her, the speaker's "brothers, sister" eat the same dish of rice and fish. This continued familial sharing of the same lunch dish connects the family to their lost father, and also to each other. It represents the fact that death is a part of family life which does not separate us from those we have lost. Our traditions, our shared meals, and our heritage connect us, like a "road" winding through the pines of all the relatives who have died before us.

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As with most pieces of literature, there isn't only a single theme that is present within the poem. There is present a theme about death. The poem is about a family sitting down together to eat a meal. At one point, the narrator is reminded of her father from the way that her mother is eating.

my mother who will
taste the sweetest meat of the head,
holding it between her fingers
deftly, the way my father did
weeks ago.
The narrator's father recently died a peaceful death, and the narrator briefly reminisces about him. It's not clear if the death theme is meant to remind people of the circle of life or the fact that life could be fragile and gone in an instant; however, the reality of death is definitely touched upon in the poem.
Another theme is the importance of memory. The mother's actions remind the speaker of her father, and it brings back a peaceful and calm sense to the speaker. The memory is a good one, and the speaker seems pleased to be reminded of the father from such a simple, everyday action.
There is also a theme about family and family unity. They are sitting down together as a family unit. They are not spread across the house grabbing food and walking away from each other. They are a unit, and they are comforted and strengthened through this difficult time by being together.
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In this poem, the speaker describes a delicious lunch that he's about to share with his siblings and mother. It's fish, with some tasty flavoring, and rice also. The mom gets to eat the fish's head, which is the best part, and she does it gracefully. The skillful way his mom eats reminds the narrator of his father, who recently died. As the poem ends, the speaker remembers how his father died peacefully, with grace.

It's a beautiful poem, heartbreaking and tender. Clearly, it's about love, family, and communion.

Despite being an extremely short poem, the theme is open to interpretation. Here are a few options.

1. The theme is the need to continue living after we lose someone we love. The speaker and his family eat together, a highly symbolic activity of continuing to take sustenance, to survive. And presumably from the description, the food is delicious; by enjoying it, they continue to participate in what life has to offer. You might give special attention to the fact that this is a warm meal, prepared in a steamer: it contrasts with the coldness of the imaginary "snow-covered road" of death that the speaker places his father on.

2. The theme is the need to maintain and strengthen family unity after a member of the family dies. They come together and share a meal at the table. Their grief is real, but they don't deal with it by seeking solitude. They take solace in each other, which is just as nourishing as the food they're consuming.

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