Those Winter Sundays

by Robert Hayden

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Student Question

What are three descriptions of the father's care in "Those Winter Sundays"?

Quick answer:

Three descriptions of the father that show his care in "Those Winter Sundays" include the fact that the father gets up early in the bitterly cold conditions, the description of his cracked, painful hands, and his characterization as a man who creates a warm environment for his family.

Expert Answers

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This poem depicts the selfless and unconditional love of a father. The first description that shows his caring nature can be found in the first two lines of the poem.

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold

The word "too" tells us that his father gets up early every other day of the week to take care of his family's needs. He is described as getting dressed in conditions that are "blueblack cold" which implies extreme and bitter cold. The phrase is reminiscent of the old saying that refers to beating someone "black and blue," which adds to the impression of the extreme cold into which this father has emerged to take care of his family.

Later in the first stanza, the poet refers to "cracked hands that ached from labor." This tells us that the speaker's father works hard during the week to take care of his family, despite the fact that "no one ever thanked him." We are given the impression that this father runs the household with very little in the way of assistance or gratitude. This speaks volumes about the levels of care that he shows to his family.

A third example of the father showing his care that you could discuss comes later when the speaker refers to her father as the man "who had driven out the cold and polished my good shoes as well." Not only has this father created a warm environment into which his children will emerge from their beds, but he has even polished the speaker's shoes to ensure preparedness for the day.

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