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Home Burial: Gender Roles In Grief

1090 words - 4 pages

     When it comes to dealing with grief there are very distinct gender roles. In a marriage or a relationship there is always the so-called strong one who never shows any emotion, which is usually the male. Then there is what people call the drama queen, who often lets her emotions control her entire life; more than likely this describes the woman in the relationship. In this poem, “Home Burial”, Amy and her husband fit these gender roles perfectly. They argue about the way grief should be express and fail to see it from the other’s point of view.
     We learn that Amy’s sorrow began from the moment that she saw her husband “making the gravel leap into the air” (982) as he dug the grave. She believed through what she saw him do that he could have no “feelings” (982). This forces Amy to go to “somebody else” (983) and share her feelings instead of bonding with her husband, who also shares the loss, but remains unable to discuss it. Amy needs to express her feelings with somebody who feels her pain, and she thinks that her husband is not capable of doing such a thing. Later in the poem, she goes onto say that she doesn’t think that any man can do such a thing. This shows the way that many people perceive men to be unable to show their feelings as easily as women do. It isn’t as if they cannot feel, but it is that they have difficulty expressing their emotions as freely as women do. Part of this can be blamed upon the way that they are brought up to think that men are stronger and that if you cry you are a wimp, and that women are the only ones who are allowed to cry and show emotions. Even though many people believe in this, it is as far from the truth as one can get.
     Amy has little difficulty showing her feelings, but she seldom shares them with her husband. When Amy goes to leave her husband, he calls out to her, “Don’t go to someone else this time” (981). This action shows that he is distressed, but he is having trouble showing it and keeps from expressing any emotion until the time in which he fears her departure. When he refers to her taking her problems to “someone else” (981), he wants Amy to go to him with her problems. He needs Amy to understand that he wants to be the one to comfort her, and that he will always be there for her because he can’t lose her. He needs Amy just as much as she needs him; Amy leaving him is his biggest fear.
They both seem to feel injured, and losing a child is obviously going to create serious problems in any relationship. The father/husband masked his suffering with the words “Three foggy mornings and one rainy day Will rot the best birch fence a man can build” (982), because he feels it is his responsibility to remain in control of his emotions and their relationship, staying strong allowing his wife to play the role of the emotionally unstable wife. This is the way many people view a...

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