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Themes

In a poem called "Home Burial," death has to play a big part. It just has to. But in this poem, it's pretty much the elephant in the room. It colors every line of dialogue in this couple's conversation, but they hardly ever mention the word. It's almost as if, for this couple, using the word "dead," or talking directly about the death of their child, makes his passing all the more real, and their grief more painful. But death is real, and it's driving a wedge between these two.

Questions About Death

  1. How do you think the woman's loss of her child affects her views on mortality in general?
  2. Do you agree with what the woman said in line 105, that "one dies alone"? Why or why not?
  3. How do these characters mask the parts of their conversation about death? Do you think this is healthy? Why or why not?
  4. How might the conversation between these two change if they just came right out and talked straightforwardly about their son's death?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Her child's death has caused this woman to be consumed by thoughts of mortality, which means she can't actually live her life to the fullest.

The man's attitude toward death is unhealthy, because he won't talk about it directly.

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