What is the point of Anne Sexton's poem "Courage"?

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Sexton's point is that courage is not in the big, heroic gestures that are often celebrated in literature or film, but in all the little ways we live courageously day by day. Courage is, to Sexton, a domestic or ordinary virtue. It happens when a child dares to take a first step or when, a little older, he withstands the bullies who say:

you [are a] crybaby or poor or fatty or crazy.

Even during war or a battle, courage is in keeping on in the face of death. Sexton, in fact, renames what is usually called "courage" as "love." For instance, when a person sacrifices himself to save another person, that is love:

If your buddy saved / you and died himself in so doing, / then his courage was not courage, / it was love; love as simple as shaving soap.

Courage comes when you face despair alone or aging. It is described in domestic terms as:

picking the scabs off your heart, / then wringing it out like a sock.

Children and the elderly, in Sexton's opinion, display as much courage in facing life as any soldier. The point of Sexton's poem is to celebrate the simple courage people exhibit every day in facing the heartaches and challenges life sends them.

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Change is inevitable. Anything you face in life, no matter how big or small, painful, embarrassing, tragic, and things which instill fear will have to be dealt with. The point is that children and adults deal with these things; they just do; not with an automatic courage, but a kind of innate will power to accept change and move on. There is the idea of "whatever doesn't kill you will make you stronger." But maybe the bigger idea, and slightly less courageous (more melancholy), is that, in isolation, fear is overwhelming; and we can only rely on "a small coal" or some "warm slippers" to face those fears. In another ironic twist, these small reserves of courage seem to be enough to face anything.

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