Student Question

What is the importance of close family relationships in "Fear"?

Quick answer:

In "Fear" by Gabriela Mistral, the speaker wants her daughter to remain close to her. Their relationship as a family is the most important thing in the world, and the mother does not want anything to stand in the way of it. This might not, however, be entirely fair as the girl grows up and seeks new experiences.

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The speaker in Gabriela Mistral's poem "Fear" does not want to let go of her daughter. To her, the most important thing in the world is to keep the girl close to her. In three stanzas, the speaker tells her audience what she does not want her little girl to be because those new roles would pull her daughter away from her and from their relationship.

In the first stanza, the speaker says that she doesn't want "them" (we don't know exactly to whom she is referring) to turn her daughter "into a swallow" that flies away or has a nest of her own. She wants the girl to stay close to her, cuddling up in their "straw bed" and allowing her mother to comb her hair.

In the second stanza, the speaker does not want her daughter to be a princess. If she were, she would no longer "play on the meadow" or sleep by her mother's side.

In the third stanza, the speaker presents the worst-case scenario. She doesn't want her daughter to be a queen, for then, she would not see her at all nor rock her to sleep at night.

Indeed, this mother wants to continue to hold her daughter right by her. Their relationship is more important to her than anything else, and perhaps that is all right when her daughter is young. But we are left to wonder if, as the girl grows up, her mother may try to hold her back from important experiences because of her own fear of losing her daughter. In that case, perhaps the mother will be unfair in putting a close family relationship ahead of her daughter's growth and desire to branch out. If so, then the poem might imply that family relationships, while highly important, can also sometimes be too constraining.

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