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Circles of misunderstanding

Circles of Misunderstanding

"Home Burial" depicts a household of misery and miscommunication. As a husband and wife attempt to deal with the loss of a child, they loose each other. Men live life more singularly than women, and immerse themselves in work and self-improvement. Women, on the other hand, tend to regard their family as their life, and therefore live their life more collectively. This difference causes most men and women to think in different ways, and therefore feel unable to communicate or understand one another. Frost uses Amy and her husband's struggle to deal with the loss of their child to show the underlying yet ultimate difference between men and women. "Home Burial" portrays a family lost because of the failure to communicate, which underlyingly describes Frost's opinion that there is an ultimate difference between a male's tendency to live individually and a female's tendency to live collectively.

Throughout the poem, Amy tries to have her husband understand her so that they may understand and cope together, yet when he fails to she gives up, thus being unable to deal with her loss herself. Amy continues to struggle with the loss of her child because she refuses to deal with the problem individually, as her husband has already done. She seems to want to be consoled by him and have him understand her grief, yet won't let herself because of his outward attitude. She ultimately saw him as a "blind creature"(line 16) who was unable to see the graveyard, or the truth. When he tries to understand by looking out the window she exclaims, "Not you!...I don't know rightly whether any man can" (lines 36-38). In this sentence Amy recognizes the fact that according to her, men cannot rightly deal with a loss. She believes his actions after the death of their child to be uncaring and unemotional. She doesn't believe that he has dealt with their collective loss because he hasn't discussed his individual emotions. She feels like he in completely incapable of expressing himself, "you can't because you don't know how to speak" (line 71). Because of his unwillingness to express himself he did not have "any feelings" (line 72). This logic is, however, tainted because of her actual inability to understand his method of dealing with his feelings. It seems as though she wanted to deal with the loss together in the beginning, yet was appalled by his "rumbling voice" (line 81) speaking of "everyday concerns" (line 86). These "everyday concerns" however, were another failure to communicate and misunderstanding. She was unable to see that his speech was a metaphor relating to the death of their child. "One is alone, and he dies more alone" (line 101) is her philosophy, while her husband sees individuality as a way of life. She believes that to be alone is abnormal and unhealthy, while he chooses not to deal with things collectively, but rather by himself. Utterly frustrated and hopeless, she gives up her struggle to get him to understand and states, "You-oh, you think the talk is all. I must go-Somewhere out of this house. How can I make you--" (lines 112-113). She realizes finally that she can't make him know her emotions, and that he thinks that by her talking individually that the grieving is over, when all she really wants is to have talked about it together, to have grieved together, to have dealt with the loss together.

Amy's husband, seeming to his wife aloof and uncaring, individually deals with the loss of his child. Rather than talking about his grief he chooses to bury the child, think, and move on. To Amy, this individual moving on is completely foreign. Her husband wants to think and remember, but not dwell. Because he had moved on, he failed to notice the visibility of the child's gravesite from their window. While Amy took this as a blatant disregard for their child's death, he had stopped dwelling on his child's death. He refers to the child by using possessive statements such as "my people" (line 23) or "his own child" (line 35) rather than 'their', showing his individual relationship with the child. He doesn't understand why Amy is so frustrated and closed with him and tries to get her to talk about her feelings yet when she refuses, he becomes frustrated with her, "You make me angry...God, what a woman" (lines 68-69)! He states, "don't go to someone else this time" (line 39) showing that he genuinely wants her to deal with it with him, yet only discussing her feelings because his have already been dealt with. She, however, does not want to share her feelings with him; she wants their feelings to be discussed together. Their conversation runs in circles of misunderstanding like this until she finally leaves.

Their failure to communicate leads to these circles of misunderstanding because neither one will explicitly say how they feel. He wants Amy to deal with her loss alone, yet share her own feelings, while she wants him to deal with his loss with her. This is impossible, however, because she doesn't understand how he could have possibly dealt with their loss alone. Because of this, she refuses to move on leaving them at a standstill. Amy leaves the house, leaving no hope for reconciliation or understanding. Her husband stays there confused and alone unable to see her desire to deal with the loss as a couple rather than as two separate people.

Through this relationship, Frost describes a difference in men and women that cannot be reconciled as long as neither recognizes the other's point of view. Frost shows typical male and female instincts and views of life. Women think collectively and define themselves in terms of their family, while men tend to think individually and define themselves in terms of their work or position. "Home Burial" also describes this standstill that men and women face when they fail to communicate. One cannot fully understand the other when situations are not explicitly spoken about. Amy wants to tell her husband how he should act, and how he should feel. This, however, can't be effectively done because she knows she cannot tell her husband how to be or how to feel. He also wants to tell her how to deal with her own feelings and fails to recognize the way that she actually wants to deal with these feelings. This conflict could be dealt with through communication, which in their case is done through fragmented thoughts and phrases that do not help one another understand their feelings. Amy is disbelieving of his real desire to have her talk about their child's death, while he is disbelieving of her actually ability to deal with their loss at all. This again goes back to their circles; they are unable to understand one another and are unable to make an effort to get to understand each other. This is because of their different ways of looking at the world. Frost shows them to be indicative of all men and women. They are unable to fully communicate because of their uncontrollable differences. They, like many others, cannot get out of their misunderstanding because they cannot communicate. Frosts message through them then is that communication can solve these innate differences in men and women yet cannot always be effectively achieved.

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