The Cremation of Sam McGee
by Robert Service
The Cremation of Sam McGee Theme of Friendship
The theme of friendship might not jump right out at you, but we think it’s a really important current running through "The Cremation of Sam McGee." Sometimes the speaker seems frustrated by Sam, or angry at the position Sam has put him in. Still, we think he’s also motivated by a real sense of caring and friendship. He feels a sense of duty, of course, but we think he also just likes Sam (or did until he kicked the bucket) and wants to do what’s right for him.
Questions About Friendship
- How close do you think Sam and the speaker are? Does the poem give you a sense that the speaker really likes Sam?
- Are friendship and duty the same thing in this poem? Do you think the speaker carries out Sam’s request because they are friends or because it seems like the right thing to do?
- Would you ask a friend to do something like this? Does the poem make it seem like Sam is asking too much?
- Does their friendship change over the course of the poem?
Chew on This
Even after Sam dies, we see the bond between Sam and the speaker continue to deepen and change, which proves the central importance of their friendship.
The friendship between Sam and the speaker is a minor force in the poem. The speaker is primarily motivated by his own sense of duty and honor, rather than friendship.