A Speakers Reflections Essay

This essay has a total of 860 words and 4 pages.

A Speakers Reflections

A Speaker's Reflections

By Jillian Monroe


Robert Hayden's poem "Those Winter Sundays" is a reflection the speaker has regarding his
father. An analysis of the poem's tone and language reveals the speaker regrets his father
did so much for the family and "no one ever thanked him". It is obvious the speaker feels
regret for the way he behaved toward his father in the past by examining the phrases in
the poem, particularly with the description of the father. The connotations of the
language used in this description denote the father in a certain way that the speaker did
not see him as before. The tone and feeling of regret or sorrow is evident in the poem not
only through language and word choice on the literal surface, but also in the structure of
the poem itself.


The poem indicates the father as hardworking by his description. The speaker reveals the
father has "cracked hands that ached from labor" and that "Sundays too" he "got up early"
to start a fire and warm the house. As if this gesture is not enough, "He'd call" to his
family "when the rooms were warm" so they would not have to endure the "blueblack cold" of
a winter morning. The poem also indicates the father doing other chores, such as polishing
"my good shoes." This description of the father is moving, it show he loves his family and
is thoughtful enough to do the chores no one else would want to do. The word choice for
this description is very interesting, however. What particularly caught my eye was
"Sundays too." Instead of saying "On Sundays" Hayden decides to use a more effective
phrase. The use of the word "too" lets the reader know the father got up early every day
to light the fire and warm the house. Hayden proceeds to make references to the weather,
calling the morning "blueblack cold" which makes the reader think of not just a cold
morning, but a frigid morning. There is also mention of the father's aching hands from
"weekday weather" as he "made banked fires blaze." The word choice evokes images into the
reader's mind of a man who works hard, truly labors, and probably deserves recognition for
it. The last line of the first stanza comes as a shock, "No one ever thanked him." The key
words in that phrase are "No one" Hayden indicates that the entire family underappreciated
the father, not just one person. At this point, the reader pities the father, because he
seems to do no wrong. However, in the second stanza, it is revealed the speaker fears "the
chronic angers of that house" You can infer from this phrase the home is not always a
welcoming place with no problems. It is in the second and third stanzas the reader's
opinion of the father changes. Instead of feeling pity for this man who gets no thanks,
you wonder why there is fear of anger. Why does the speaker talk "indifferently to him" if
he is such a wonderful man? The word choice indicates the father and the speaker do not
get along very well. However, also in the third stanza, alongside the negativity toward
the father the speakers regret awakens again. It seems the speaker cannot believe the way
he treated the man who had "driven out the cold and polished my good shoes as well."
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