How to Watch Your Brother Die
Michael Lassell portrays himself as a straight man in his poem “How to Watch your Brother Die.” In reality he is a 21st century gay poet. The poem tells the story of a man, this being the straight narrator, who is called across the country to visit his brother as he lies on his deathbed. Later in the poem we learn the dying brother is suffering from HIV, and had been disowned by his brother because of his homosexuality. As the poem goes on, the narrator creates a unique and close relationship with his brother’s lover. Through the trials of the writer, the poem conveys the struggles and judgment received by the gay community, ultimately creating a life-changing shift in his morals. The reader can see and understand the changes in the narrator because of Lassell’s use of reversed roles, second-person voice, and symbolism. “Michael Lassell often writes about life as a gay man. He speaks bravely about sexuality and vulnerability.” (480) In this poem Lassel had to shift his role. He had to step into a perspective of someone whose beliefs are on the other side of the spectrum. What we know about the narrator before he wrote the poem is that he lived a conservative life. We know this because he is married to a woman who has no interest in her husband’s dying brother, simply because he is gay. The lover tells him, “Forgive yourself for not wanting to know him.” (482) This tells us the narrator disagreed with his brother’s sexual orientation enough to take a step out of his life, and discontinue their relationship. By portraying the story from the view of an orthodox straight man, Lassell creates a stronger connection and understanding with his non-gay readers, while still portraying a new perspective. Lassell tells you the story as if it is an experience you are going to soon face and teaches you how to react appropriately, walking you through each step. He used second person to allow the reader to connect with the story on an emotional...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document