The Boy and His Family Relationships
In a sort of short story style, Marie Howe illustrates a depleting family relationship between a father and his children in the poem, “The Boy,” through its many symbols. With no discernible rhyme scheme, the plot develops, climaxes, and concludes alluding to a short story but in poetic form. The speaker, discovered through clues within the poem, is the younger sister of the boy and she is listening and learning from the examples set by her brothers. There is no mention of a mother so the focus is kept on the relationship between the father and children.
Opening the poem is a description of the setting and it begins to set up the solemn tone: “My older brother is walking down the sidewalk into the suburban summer night” (1-2). The term “sidewalk” begins its symbolic meaning in this first line and the suburban setting indicates they are a middle-class family. “The Boy” is taking place during the summer months when school is out of session when children have fewer restrictions and more free time. Following is the description of the boy, an ordinarily dressed child, which denotes his normalness, and the direction in which he is walking: “white T-shirt, blue jeans – to the field at the end of the street” (3).
Lines 4-6 exudes symbolism in many ways: “Hangars Hideout the boys called it, an undeveloped plot, a pit overgrown with weeds, some old furniture down there” (4-6). The name of the hangout has negative connotations, as if junkies and street trash “hideout” there to escape the wrath of normal day-to-day life. “Underdeveloped plot” symbolizes the youth of those that hideout there, perhaps of puberty age, and “overgrown with weeds” expresses that some of them have outgrown the hideout (4-6). Lines 4-6 are also used as a method of foreshadowing the action that comes later. With the addition of “some old furniture,” another negative connotation of the hangout is implied as trashy and disorderly, but conveys this hideout as...
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