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Robert Frost’s “Home Burial” delves into the raw depths of grief and strained communication between a couple grappling with the loss of their child. Quizzma’s comprehensive answer key unlocks the complexities of this poem, guiding you through intricate themes, insightful analyses, and crucial textual evidence.
Whether you’re tackling CommonLit assessment questions or seeking a deeper appreciation for Frost’s artistry, this resource equips you with the tools to navigate the emotional landscape of “Home Burial.”
|The wife and husband have different ways of grieving. In your opinion, is there a right or wrong way to grieve?
|Grieving is a deeply personal process, varying significantly from person to person. There is no universally right or wrong way to experience grief. Factors such as individual personality, coping mechanisms, life experiences, faith, and the importance of the loss play a crucial role in shaping how one grieves. It’s important to remember that grieving is a journey that requires time to navigate.
|Throughout their conversation, the wife and husband walk up and down the stairs. How do the stairs and one’s placement on the stairs symbolize power or lack thereof? Cite evidence from the text that supports your answer.
|The use of stairs in their conversation is a powerful metaphor for their differing states of grief and emotional power. The wife’s position near the window at the top of the stairs represents her ongoing struggle with grief, symbolizing her closeness to the loss of their baby.
In contrast, the husband’s placement at the bottom of the stairs, closer to the door and the external world, suggests he has navigated his grief more effectively. This spatial arrangement underscores their emotional isolation, as highlighted in the text: “He saw her from the bottom of the stairs… She was starting down, looking back over her shoulder at some fear.”
The text implies that for their marriage to heal, they both need to move emotionally, metaphorically represented by moving up or down the stairs to meet each other. The husband makes an effort to empathize with his wife, ascending the stairs, indicating a step back in his own acceptance process. However, the wife remains unable to connect with her husband’s perspective. This dynamic is illustrated when he observes her from the staircase’s bottom, indicating a physical and emotional distance between them.
|How does Robert Frost build suspense in the poem? Cite specific passages and literary devices that support your answer. What is the most suspenseful moment for you in “Home Burial”? Why?
|Robert Frost masterfully builds suspense in “Home Burial” through the evolving emotional dynamics between the man and his wife. The suspense is heightened by the fluctuating tone of their conversation, reflecting their internal struggles. A particularly suspenseful moment occurs when the wife descends the stairs, distancing herself from her husband, her expression filled with foreboding. This physical and emotional separation intensifies the tension. The husband’s almost rhetorical question about whether a man can discuss his son’s death in a woman’s presence adds to the suspense.
Her response is sharp and unyielding, perhaps even perceived as harsh: ‘Not you!…’ This exchange encapsulates the climax of their emotional disconnect, making it a moment of high suspense. The starkness of her reply underscores the depth of their communication gap and the intensity of their individual grief, thereby heightening the suspense for the reader.
|In the context of this poem, what can we learn from tragedy? Cite evidence from this text, your own experience, and other literature, art, or history in your answer.
|One tragedy can cause another to occur. There are limits of communication between the husband and wife while they are grieving. Each person fails to appreciate the other’s grieving process—fails to credit it, allow it, and have patience with it. This leads to misunderstanding and eventually breaks down their marriage.
|In the context of this poem, how do people face death? Cite evidence from this text, your own experience, and other literature, art, or history in your answer.
|In “Home Burial,” Robert Frost explores the varied ways individuals confront death and grief. The poem illustrates contrasting responses through its characters. The wife, for instance, is unable to detach herself from the grave and the memory of the lost child. She criticizes the common tendency to quickly move on, as reflected in her observation that most people pretend to follow their loved ones to the grave but are actually eager to return to the living world and things they understand. Her refusal to turn away from the grave and accept death is her way of rejecting the idea that life must go on, which she views as “the world’s evil.”
In contrast, the husband in the poem represents a more traditional, pragmatic approach to death. He has accepted the death and copes through physical action, specifically by digging his child’s grave. This act ties him to the natural cycles of life and death, portraying a more organic, ‘way-of-the-world’ mentality. His approach to grief is less about emotional expression and more about physical, tangible acts.
This dichotomy in grieving processes mirrors broader themes in literature, art, and history. In literature, for example, different approaches to death are a common theme, ranging from the stoic acceptance in Ernest Hemingway’s works to the intense mourning and melancholy in Edgar Allan Poe’s poetry. In art, the portrayal of death varies from the peaceful and naturalistic in some Renaissance works to the dramatic and emotional in Romantic paintings. Historically, cultural attitudes towards death have also varied widely, from the elaborate funeral rites of Ancient Egypt, signifying a deep reverence for the afterlife, to the more stoic attitudes of certain warrior cultures, where death was seen as an inevitable part of life.
Overall, “Home Burial” reflects the complex and diverse human reactions to death, showing that there is no singular way to face this universal experience. Whether it is through emotional detachment, physical action, or profound sorrow, each individual, culture, and era has its unique way of confronting the inevitability of death.
|Compare and contrast the wife and husband’s ways of grieving. How are they similar, and how are they different? Cite evidence from the text.
|The husband and wife are similar in the fact that both of them are greatly devastated that their child is now deep under a tomb. Also, they are similar in the way they always look at the grave of their child. As the poem mentions, “There are three stones of slate and one of marble, Broad-shouldered little slabs there in the sunlight. On the sidehill. We haven’t to mind those. But I understand: it is not the stones, But the child’s mound—” (Lines 25-30)
On the other hand, the husband and the wife differ in how they grieve. The husband is more open to the death of their child. However, the wife is close-minded about the death of their child. As mentioned in the poem, “Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t,’” (Line 30) the wife cries because she does not want to talk to his husband about the death. While his husband just replied, “Can’t a man speak of his child he’s lost?” (Line 35) because he wants to talk about it. Also, the two are different in fact that the wife is more emotional in losing her child in comparison to his husband. While his husband is more on the objective of fixing their ruined relationship because of their loss.
|PART A: Which TWO answers best depict the central themes in the poem?
|Death & Grief
|PART B: Which TWO quotes from the poem best support the answers to Part A?
|“A man must partly give up being a man / With women-folk.” (Lines 52-53) & “‘No, from the time when one is sick to death, / One is alone, and he dies more alone.’” (Lines 104-105)
|PART A: What does the word “inconsolably” most closely mean as it is used in line 68?
|Unable or unwilling to be comforted
|PART B: Which phrase from the text best supports the answer to Part A?
|“You’d think his memory might be satisfied”