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Themes

"Home Burial," published in 1914, shows a household scene from its time, an era when women were still not even allowed to vote. The different gender roles in this poem complicate the power relationships, and make the emotional communication between characters more difficult. The husband makes derogatory comments towards women, and the wife makes derogatory comments towards men. Call us pessimistic, but we have a feeling they're not going to meet in the middle anytime soon.

Questions About Gender

  1. How does gender influence this couple's communication? How can you tell?
  2. Which character do you think is more sexist, and why?
  3. Do you think that the narrator agrees with his characters' comments about gender? Why or why not?
  4. What role does gender play in this couple's power struggle? And who wins (so to speak) in the end?

Chew on This

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

Both the man and woman in this poem have stereotypical ideas about the other gender, and that's why they can't have a real, healthy, productive conversation about their loss.

This couple is just using gender stereotypes as an excuse for their fight. The different ways in which they grieve for their son have nothing to do with gender.

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