The Grandmother (Summary study notes)



In this poem the ‘American-Indian poet, Ray young Bear, draws a picture of his grandmother, all-loving, all-inspiring. His grand-mother would wear a purple-scarf round her head for warmth and she would go to market with a plastic shopping bag in her hand. Her shape was also quite remarkable. If the poet saw her from a ling distance, he could tell that she was his grandmother. She would come home working in the field and wash her  hands. They were wet and had the smell of roots. She would put her hands on his head and caress it lovingly. Although they were wet, they would be warm out of love. Before he looked at her face, the smell and warmth would make him guess that it was his grandmother. Sometimes the poet would go to her grave. he would imagine to have heard a voice coming from the tombstone. He could feel to be his grandmother. he could feel that her words were moving smoothly inside him like a stream. They would inspire him. In his sad life he would find a faint glimpse of hope. He would remember the winter night when they were shivering with cold. his grandmother would wake up and try to move th fire which was covered with thick ashes and he would see her from his bed and hope that he would warm his body by the open fire.


Understanding and Interpretation

What images do you find in this poem written by a member of the Sauk and Fox (Mesquaki) Indian tribe of North America? To what senses do these images appeal?

The poet has given two examples of metaphor and one example simile. The metaphors are ‘rock’ and ‘flow’. Here ‘rock’ stands for the gravestone and the world ‘flow’ reminds us of ‘the smooth movement of the stream’ And ‘like to light….. at night’ is an example of smile. The poet has successfully drawn a picture of his grandmother. These images appeal to all senses. ‘Her shape’, the purple scarf, ‘the plastic shopping bag’, ‘the light’, ‘a sleeping fire appeal to our sight’, ‘The smell of roots’ appeal to our smell’, ‘Warm and damp’ appeal to our touch’, ‘A voice’ and ‘her words’ affect our hearing.

How does the speaker feel toward his grandmother? In what words or lines does he make his feelings clear?

The speaker finds his grandmother all-loving and all-inspiring. ‘Warm and damp’ shows how deeply she loved him and “her words flow inside me like the light” shows how he is inspired by her. Her words would thrill her.

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