The Wanderer Questions and Answers

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In what ways is the wanderer someone with whom you can sympathize?  

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Madeleine Wells eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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We can also sympathize with the fact that the wanderer has to go through much grief to learn life's most important lessons. It is often the hardest experiences that lead us to make changes in our lives. The saying "no pain, no gain" comes to mind, but it is a difficult one to accept. The way of wisdom is often and truly fraught with challenges and trials.

No man may know wisdom till many a winter Has been his portion. A wise man is patient, Not swift to anger, nor hasty of speech, Neither too weak, nor too reckless, in war, Neither fearful nor fervent, nor too wishful of wealth. Nor too eager in vow — ere he know the event. A brave man must bide when he speaketh his boast Until he know surely the goal of his spirit.

Through his painful experiences, the wanderer comes to understand how a man becomes wise. To navigate life successfully, a wise and brave man must be self-possessed and disciplined on every occasion that demands it, a tall order indeed. We sympathize with the wanderer because he has been forced to endure what most people never need to. He has lost all his warrior friends, and he is now alone. All he has are memories of long-ago feats and victories to sustain him in the desert of his present existence.

The realization that "wealth is fleeting, friends are fleeting, man is fleeting, kinsman is fleeting. All the foundation of earth shall fail" is a very discouraging one indeed. So, we further sympathize with the wanderer in that he must face these difficult truths by himself.

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Lorna Stowers eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The wanderer is someone with who many can sympathizes given the story he tells is one filled with loss. The wanderer has lost his native land (though personal exile), loss of friends, and loss of self.

Many times throughout a person's life (especially the older one gets) they must face the fact that, as humans, we age and die. We must look back on our lives with the memories that tend to become less and less clear- "[T]hey always swim away."

That being said, many people learn that the one thing that they can always count on is their faith. Faith is the one thing that will never die or leave us-"consolation from the father in the heavens,/ where, for us, all permanence rests."

Perhaps the most profound quote from the text lies in the following line:

A man must wait when he speaks oaths, until the proud-hearted on sees clearly, whither the intent of his heart will turn.

This quote teaches about the importance of not making promises too quickly. One must be sure, before taking the oath, that they will be able to hold the promise until death. Without that knowledge, the promises made will not be trusted and made in vain. This quote could allow one to sympathize with the wanderer in regards to the fact that he is a wise man left alone in the harsh world.

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