What words in Robert Hayden's "Those Winter Sundays" suggest the son's feelings toward his father and his home?

Asked on by sbridges

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The question you need to think about is are you talking about the son as an adult looking back on his childhood and his father or the son when he was going through his childhood? The poem makes clear that there is a massive contrast between these two different states.

As a child, the speaker is clearly ungrateful and unaware of what his father does for him, taking it for granted and not thanking him. The narrator says that he spoke "indifferently" to his father when he came downstairs after his father had risen so early and warmed the rooms, and even polished his shoes as well. The first stanza states that "No one ever thanked him" for such labours and evidence of sacrificial love.

However, the change in the narrator as an adult looking back at his childhood now is evident through the last two lines when he asks himself the following question:

What did I know, what did I know of love’s austere and lonely offices?
The wording of the "lonely offices" of love shows that now the speaker is able to look back upon himself as a child and berate himself for not recognising his father's sacrificial actions and love towards him.

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