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Themes

We only ever see the speaker’s father through the speaker’s point of view, but it’s not too hard to imagine what the old man's life is like. "Those Winter Sundays" tells us that he wakes up early, works hard, and provides for his family. Seriously, he works (in and outside of the home) seven days a week for his family. If that isn’t sacrifice, well, we don’t know what sacrifice is. This dude could use an all-expenses-paid week in Tahiti, if you ask us.

Questions About Sacrifice

  1. Are there hints in the poem as to what the speaker’s father is thinking or feeling?
  2. What do you think that the father has sacrificed in his life in order to care for his family?
  3. Why doesn’t the speaker make the connection between his father’s actions and his emotions when he’s a child? In other words, why can't the kid wake up and realize how much his dad loves him?
  4. Do you think that the speaker’s father is exceptional? Or is he doing what any good father would do to take care of his family?
  5. Has the father’s physical work come at the cost of his emotional life? Would he have been a better father if he had spent less time working and more time hugging his kid?

Chew on This

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

The speaker’s father has sacrificed everything—including his emotional relationship with his kid—to provide the basic tools of survival for his family.

The speaker’s father is just doing what any dad would do by waking up early to light the fires in the house. Nothing special about this guy.

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