Fires of Destruction (word count: 1,245)
In the poem “Nighttime Fires” the speaker of the poem is remembering the speaker father’s wild obsession with burning houses at night and how the speaker had to go with the father to these burning houses with the family. The father is a casualty of the rough economy and this anger toward his bad luck is the reason he loves seeing these macabre scenes. The speaker in “Nighttime Fires” vividly illustrates the lasting impression that the fires and his father’s fascination with them, had on his childhood and the relationship with the father.
The anger that the father feels due to his unfortunate circumstances is prevalent throughout the poem and it leads to a strain on the relationship with the speaker as a child. The troubled economy resulted in the father losing his job; the speaker tells us that it was after this occurred that he started chasing the fire trucks and burning buildings, “…my father/lost his job, so not getting up in the morning/gave him time: awake past midnight, he read old newspapers/with no news, tried crosswords until he split the pencil/between his teeth, mad” (3-7). Not having a job meant that he didn’t have to get up in the morning so he could stay up and wait for the whine of the fire truck sirens. He did the crosswords and read the old newspapers just to pass the time and keep his mind occupied on something that he already knew so that he could pay attention to the sounds coming outside. Not having a job did not specifically cause a strain on the speaker’s relationship with the father but it showed that there was trouble in the father’s life that ultimately led to the troubled bond. When the family would get to a burning house the “…father, who never held us,/would take my hand and point to falling cinders that/covered the ground like snow, or, excited, show us/the swollen collapse of a staircase”(21-24). Only during this time of destruction and chaos would the father show some kind of emotion...
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