young boy in overalls and a hat walking with a chimney sweeping broom over his shoulder

The Chimney Sweeper

by William Blake
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What would be the conclusion to the poem "The Chimney Sweeper"?

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"The Chimney Sweeper " is one of Blake's poems of innocence. The boy who narrates the poem does not yet completely realize what a cruel place the world is. Therefore, although his life is cold and miserable, the poem concludes with the boy finding himself "happy & warm" because...

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"The Chimney Sweeper" is one of Blake's poems of innocence. The boy who narrates the poem does not yet completely realize what a cruel place the world is. Therefore, although his life is cold and miserable, the poem concludes with the boy finding himself "happy & warm" because he still believes that God will protect those who "do their duty" from harm.

Within the context of the poem, the boy's dream of an Angel who tells him that if he is "a good boy" he'll never lack "joy" provides the boy with an illusory comfort that is nevertheless real and important to him in the moment. However, the poem pivots on the assumption that the reader will understand that God is not going to save a chimney sweeper from harm or give him "joy." Our experience contrasts with the chimney sweeper's innocence. Our hearts break at the comfort the boy takes in thinking he can achieve "joy" because we know his life is not destined to be anything but miserable. Chimney sweepers had to be kept half-starved to fit down the chimneys and often contracted cancer from their contact with coal dust. Once they grew too big—if they lived that long—they would be cast into a world with no education and no one to help them, the lowest of the low.

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In the Chimney Sweeper (songs of Innocence) the conclusion of the poem would be when he wakes from his dream.  He wakes up, gets back to work in the soot, and although it's cold, he feels warm because he knows that if he's good, he'll make it to heaven.  You can go a couple different directions with this ending.  It can be seen as the acceptance of Christianity in a boy's life.  That can be backed up by the references to washing in a river (baptism) and the opening of coffins and setting the boys free (freeing their souls). 

Another angle is on the theme of innocence.  Little Tom accepts all that he is told.  He sees an angel and accepts that.  He doesn't question whether or not an angel is real.  He just accepts it.  He also accepts that he can have God as his father.  The beginning of the poem mentions how his biological father sold him.  But he accepts God immediately without question.  He is still naive.  That exploration would be an interesting ending to a paper.

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