Those Winter Sundays

by Robert Hayden

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What actions does the father take in "Those Winter Sundays"?

Quick answer:

In "Those Winter Sundays," the speaker's father would get up early to light fires so that the family would not have to get up in the cold. He also polished the speaker's shoes, presumably in preparation for church.

Expert Answers

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On Sundays, the speaker's father does the same thing he does every other day of the week. He gets up early, despite the extremely cold conditions, and lights fires so that the speaker and other members of the family don't have to get up in the cold. We know from the poet's use of the word "too" that the father does this every day of the week—not just on Sundays.

He does all this in spite of a seeming lack of appreciation from members of his family. The speaker acknowledges that he speaks "indifferently" to his father, which tells us that he does not really appreciate the dutiful nature with which his father takes care of the family. We are also told that no one in the family ever thanked the father for his efforts. Anyone who has ever gotten out of bed on a cold morning will be able to think about the gratitude that the speaker should have for his father, who got up early to get a fire going.

In addition to warming up the house, the speaker's father has also polished his shoes. In a nutshell, in an environment in which there is no mention of a mother, the father does what he needs to do to ensure that his family's needs are taken care of.

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