“Analysis of Undressing Aunt Frieda”
“Undressing Aunt Frieda,” is a poem about the narrator’s remembrance of his Aunts life while visiting her on a death bed. The narrative is in first person, and takes place as the narrator and his daughter are about to leave the relative. The first half of the poem explores Frieda and her past. The second half is about how the narrator and daughter have grown and learned from the aunt. While undressing her aunt, the narrator feels emotions and remembers his past with Frieda. The poem describes these emotions and memories in a metaphor explaining unique characteristics of how Aunt Frieda undressed, and how she impacted the relatives.
The poem opens with the narrator starting to undress Frieda. As he begins he starts to remember how Aunt Frieda undressed him as a child. “I think of how,/undressing me”(1-2). The first image is that she used to “tilt back her head” at the start of the disrobing. The way she moves her head back reminds the narrator of someone listening for danger. Her actions are to protect the child. He imagines that his aunt was listening for soldiers that are on the look for her. These soldiers that he is imagining are part of Hitler’s army that hunted Jews. This tells the reader that this family is Jewish, and the head motion must have been very dramatic if images of the holocaust are rendered. “The faint marching of the S.S men whose one great dream/ was her death” (3-5).
Frieda would next start to unbutton the speakers shirt. The process of the detaching buttons brought memories of when Aunt Frieda babysat the narrator in East New York. The meticulous and lengthy step would tire the little boy out even more, “I was already tiring” (9). The reason Aunt Frieda was undressing and putting him to bed was because the parents were out for the night “no one at home to put me to bed” (9-10). This is another example, like the protective nodding,...