Study Guide

The Whipping Summary

By Robert Hayden

The Whipping Summary

The poem opens with a description of a woman whipping a boy—yet again. She screams at him, tells him he's wrong and she's right, chases him all over the place, and hits him so violently that the stick she uses breaks. This whole scene triggers a flashback of somebody (either the speaker or the woman) getting beaten by somebody else whom they now hate. After the flashback is over, the speaker brings us back to the present and tells us that the boy is now sobbing in his room and the woman is resting against a tree. She is muttering and feels as if she has somehow taken revenge on whoever caused her all that pain so many years ago.

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