Robert Frost’s “Home Burial” and “The Death of a Hired Man”
In “Home Burial” and “The Death of a Hired Man,” Robert Frost uses sorrow to express the effect of death on the living. These poems show different families that are dealing with death and the ways that they refuse to romanticise grief. In “Home Burial”, a woman is unable to move on from the loss of her child, which results in the separation from her husband. In “The Death of a Hired Man,” a married couple express their different feelings toward a man who used to work for them and that had come home to die. In these poems, the husband and wife respond to death in different ways. As a result, they disagree with each other have difficulty understanding the feelings of their partner. Frost uses dialogue in “Home Burial” and “The Death of a Hired Man” to show us the way that death affects the world and the people in it.
In the beginning of “Home Burial”, we see Amy coming down the stairs of her home. On her way down the stairwell she “look[s] back over her shoulder in some fear”(Frost 3) and turns away. Her husband sees her asks her what she is looking at, “What is it you see / From up there always—for I want to know” (Frost 6-7). It is clear that the wife is petrified of her husband as she is unable to look at him. She is also uncomfortable in his presence as “her face change[s] from terrified to dull” (Frost 9). The husband is “Mounting until she cowered under him” (Frost 11). In this line, we realize that the husband is controlling in the way that he stands over her. He looks strong and powerful while the wife looks weak and submissive. The wife tells him that even if he looks, he will not be able to understand what the object of her attention is. The wife “stiffening her...