Who is more sympathetic in "Home Burial," the husband or Amy?

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The poem "Home Burial" by Robert Frost is about a husband and wife whose son has died and has recently been buried in a family plot next to their house. Their conversation takes place on a stairway. The husband first accosts his wife, who is at the top...

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of the stairs, and asks her what she is looking at. When he comes to see, he realizes that she has been observing the grave from a window. He sits on the stairs and she descends, threatening to leave the house, saying, "I must get out of here. I must get air." The husband tries to console her so she won't go.

Both characters are sympathetic; however, they have different ways of coping with their grief and their ongoing lives. The husband is obviously more pragmatic. He misses his son, but he is more outspoken about their loss. He says, "Can't a man speak of his own child he's lost?" He wants his wife, Amy, to share her grief with him rather than escape outdoors. It cannot have been easy for him to dig his own child's grave, but he was nonetheless forced to do it. He tries to console his wife by sharing that their grief will pass, but she will not accept this and takes it as a lack of caring. His insistence that he will bring his wife back by force if she tries to leave may be because he sees her as hysterical, and he may be afraid that she will make a scene or even harm herself outdoors.

The wife, Amy, on the other hand, is unable to control her grief. All she can think about is her lost son, and she views any practical considerations, even the digging of the child's grave, as an affront to his memory. She mentions it as an accusation against her husband—"How could you?" she says. Her husband's pragmatic attitude has offended her, and in the past, she has reacted by going out and seeking solace from other people. That's why her husband pleads, "Don't go to someone else this time." She also takes offense at her husband's attempts to help her overcome her grief and get on with her life, as if giving up her grief is dishonoring her son.

We see, then, that this married couple has been torn apart by the death and burial of their child, and they are attempting to cope with it in different ways. Both characters are sympathetic, so it is up to you to choose with whom you sympathize more.

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