Study Guide

We Are Seven Family

By William Wordsworth

Family

We are fam-ily. Or, as Wordsworth's puts it: "we are seven." But what does family mean, exactly? How do we define the sorts of blood relationships that so often define us? Wordsworth's poem asks this and many other questions, but most importantly, it asks if our family relationships hold strong even after death. It asks if our dead relatives still count as our relatives, if family bonds outlive even the Grim Reaper. The speaker and the little girl of "We Are Seven" have different points of view on family, but there's no doubt that the idea of family lies at the heart of the poem.

Questions About Family

  1. Is the speaker disrespectful of the little girl's familial relationships? Why is it so important that she agree with him on the matter of who "counts" as her siblings?
  2. What role, if any, does the little girl's mother play in the poem?Ā 
  3. Do you think that the speaker has experienced any deaths in his family? Does his argument with the little girl suggest that maybe he hasn't lived through the same kinds of loss that she has? Why or why not?

Chew on This

The little girl is right: once family, always family.

Nope, actually the speaker is right: when you're dead, you're dead. Only the living count as family.

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