What is the theme in the poem "Man of the House"? I do not understand the message that the author, Bob Hicok, is trying to convey to the reader. I appreciate the help, as this is a difficult poem...

What is the theme in the poem "Man of the House"? I do not understand the message that the author, Bob Hicok, is trying to convey to the reader. I appreciate the help, as this is a difficult poem to analyze.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The message that the speaker of Bob Hicok's poem "Man of the House" subtly sends is that people can be married to someone and have a life with her or him, and still not really know that person.

In his novel A Tale of Two Cities, in a chapter entitled "The Night Shadows," Charles Dickens reflects, "A wonderful fact [meaning a cause of wonder] to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other." This observation certainly applies to the poem's message in "Man of the House," hinted at in these lines:

went away for nine hours a day,
and came home hoarding my silence,
built a ferris wheel in my mind,
bolt by bolt, then broke it
just as it spun me to the top.

In his quotidian existence of working nine hours a day, the "man of the house" has his own world which he constructs: his routine that he compares to "a ferris wheel" in his mind. This routine with which he has been preoccupied, as well as his other repeated activities such as mowing the lawn, painting the house, fixing the furnace, overcoming addiction, and reading Spinoza's philosophies keep him from truly focusing upon his interpersonal relationships.  Having lost sight of the things that truly matter, the speaker finds himself a stranger in his own home, a fact that he expresses figuratively in the words "Turns out I live next door."

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