Study Guide

Home Burial Gender

By Robert Frost

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"I don't know rightly whether any man can." (40)

This line shows the woman putting down not only her husband, but all men. She isn't sure that any man would know how to talk about his dead child, which hardly seems fair. Sure, the grieving process is likely different for men than it is for women in this situation, but some men certainly would be able to talk about their grief in an inoffensive manner.

"A man must partly give up being a man
With women-folk. […]" (52-53)

It seems as if this guy just might have a hard time talking with all women—not just his wife. But hey, his wife talked smack about men, so now it's his turn to say something not so nice about the ladies. Tit for tat, right?

"What was it brought you up to think it the thing
To take your mother-loss of a first child
So inconsolably— […]" (66-68)

The gender in this line is in the words "mother-loss." This makes it seem as though the grief of the mother is an entirely different thing than the grief of the father. Does that seem fair to you? Does a mother grieve differently than a father? How so?

"God, what a woman! And it's come to this,
A man can't speak of his own child that's dead." (73-74)

It's not that his wife's a difficult kind of person in general, but she's a difficult "woman." This line almost makes it seem as if her extreme femininity, her womanliness, is to blame for the problems in their relationship.

"Three foggy mornings and one rainy day
Will rot the best birch fence a man can build." (96-97)

Ah, manly men. They know all about fences and the weather. But maybe they should cool it on the Farmer's Almanac wisdom when they've just dug a grave for their dead kid. Right?

"I'll follow and bring you back by force. I will!—" (120)

This line shows the physical dominance of the male gender. As his wife tries to get out of the house, he threatens to bring her back, even if he has to force her. That's one power this woman clearly doesn't have.

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