Richard Bone is sort of the key to the whole collection of "Spoon River Anthology" because it details the epitaphs that he (being Edgar Masters) was able to craft knowing the true nature of the townspeople he commemorates. It was Masters' job to write the epitaphs as it was Richard Bone's job to write what they wanted on the epitaphs, which are probably not a real reflection of the lives they lead - just the image of themselves that someone else wanted them to have in that mundane way of "beloved mother," etc... Masters does a wonderful job seeing the humanity in each person even when they possessed the less than admirable qualities that a typical epitaph omits. In this poem, Bone is somewhat dismayed at playing a part in perpetuating the myth of the townspeople because he was "influenced to hide" their real stories by the necessity of earning money.
He's talking about making a tombstone for two people he doesn't know based on the opinion of others. It's all good and well to be told that a person was wonderful and a good christian in their life, but how does he know? How does he know he's not chiseling "false chronicles" into permanence. He realizes that perhaps it's not his place to question the past lives of another, but to simply acknowledge the life and move on.
The poem “Richard Bone” by Edgar Lee Masters and the short story “Cats” by Anna Quindlen share a theme of how memory is imperfect. Both use a similar plot of having to deal with something that the protagonists don't enjoy yet are helplessly doing what they are told to do. Both Masters and Quindlen teach readers that though memories are neither perfect nor can be touched or seen, it is possible to replace them or fill in the gaps ourselves. Both texts explore a theme of how loneliness is at the core of memories through the examples of Richard Bone, the woman next door, and the essence of people’s personal lives. In...
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