Midterm break is a poem that delivers the scene of a funeral in short snapshots narrated by the estranged boy whose brother has died. The title itself implies a disturbance of some sort, a ‘break’. However, it does not give the full meaning of the disruption felt by the boy and the titles’ meaning is shown in full only by the end of the poem.
The boy in the poem’s aimless and confused outlook about what happened is told to us by his impassive style of narrating- he ‘sat all day….counting bells’. He has taken notice of his surroundings but they seem very distant from him. He cannot bring himself to care about his circumstances. He does not know how to feel or react about the incident. His counting the bells also implies how he is just idling away his time because he is feeling very blank about his situation. All this paints a picture of desolation and isolation. His being in the ‘college sick bay’ also adds to the gloomy atmosphere. He is driven home by his neighbours which tells us that his parents must be busy in other circumstances. The boy says that “in the porch I met my father crying—he had always taken funerals in his stride—“ We are also shown how the father has broken down despite being strong. The hyphens depict unease and concern. The boy does not know how to react to his father’s crying, this being the first funeral he has cried at. In contrast to the father, the baby in the pram is laughing. Big Jim Evans says it ‘was a hard blow’ but he does not seem to be feeling the same blunt misery the boy is experiencing. Old people are also standing up to shake his hand and offer condolences while other’s whispered amongst themselves about who he was. These show how everything and everyone’s actions are feeling unnatural to the boy. He is shaken up by his father’s crying, and embarrassed at the unexpected behavior of the guests. The lines also tell us that a funeral at one’s own home is considerably different from that of another’s. Also,...
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