Study Guide

The Last Words of My English Grandmother Madness

By William Carlos Williams

Madness

Gimme something to eat—
They're starving me— (9-10)

We wonder if the grandmother is really being starved. Are there really awful people who've been denying her food? Or is this an example of the paranoia that sometime comes as people slip into dementia?

Is this what you call

making me comfortable?
By now her mind was clear— (24-26)

This is the only direct reference that the speaker makes to the fact that grandmother might have some kind of dementia. By saying that her mind is clear here, it makes us think that the previous quote was an example of growing irrational paranoia. It's funny, though, that in her moment of clarity, she takes the time to get sassy with the ambulance dudes and her grandson. It looks like the old bird's still got it in her.

What are all those
fuzzy looking things out there? (37-38)

The fact that the grandmother doesn't recognize what trees are could show just how far her mind has slipped. You could argue that she doesn't recognize them because her eyesight is so bad, but it seems like even with terrible eyesight she could figure out that the passing shapes were trees.

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