Child Abuse In Robert Hayden’s “The Whipping

575 words - 2 pages

According to the Microsoft Online Encyclopedia, there were 166,232 confirmed cases involving American children who were physically abused by their parents and 66,293 cases involving emotional abuse in 2001. In Robert Hayden's "The Whipping," the narrator relives his own tragic experiences as he witnesses a boy being physically and verbally abused. The poem illustrates a cycle of abuse that is perpetuated by both the narrator and the woman. One can infer that not only were the boy and the narrator both victims of abuse, but the woman was a victim as well.The fact that the woman is physically and verbally abusing the boy is made obvious in the first three stanzas. In the first stanza, the narrator states that the woman is beating the boy "again," indicating that this happened on a regular basis (2). One might guess that the boy is constantly misbehaving and is just being punished again. However, after further reading it becomes evident that the woman is not simply punishing the boy, but she is abusing him. Even though the boy pleads with the woman for compassion, she "strikes and strikes the shrilly circling / boy until the stick breaks / in her hand" (6, 9-11). The woman is full of rage and is hitting him out of anger. She shouts to the neighborhood "her goodness and his wrongs" (3-4). She is demoralizing the boy in order to make herself feel better about her actions and to make him feel like he deserves to be whipped.Towards the middle of the poem, the narrator is reminded of the abuse that he suffered as a boy. He says that the boy's "tears are rainy weather to wound like memories"(11- 12). The narrator...

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