Morning in the Burned House Margaret Atwood “Bare child’s feet on the scorched floorboards (I can almost see) In my burning clothes, the thin green shorts And grubby yellow T-shirt Holding my cindery, non-existent, Radiant flesh. Incandescent. ” Morning in the Burned House by Margaret Atwood is a poem describing the mind of a burned house and of how it is tormented by pain and evil; and yet, in the midst of this darkness, there is light to guide the soul of the house to safety and into a world of peace and forgiveness.
The two stanzas chosen for this analysis are the final two stanzas, in which pain and peace are both shown in different perspectives. “Bare child’s feet on the scorched floorboards” is metaphorically showing how the house’s soul’s past is connected to the present, how it’s first memories are still in its mind, though everything else is gone. The only thing connecting the house to its past are the footprints on the floorboards. The “scorched floorboards” represent the darkness in its life; how darkness has taken over everything in the house’s life and mind.
The child’s footprints are also a symbol of guidance; they guide the mind of the house to safety and protection through evil and danger. “(I can almost see)” describes how the darkness is very thick, the hatred and anger almost hides the light of happiness. The darkness nearly blinds the house’s soul in despair and pain, yet it can faintly see the light of hope on the other side, see that all was well before the tragedy had happened. In my burning clothes, the thin green shorts and grubby yellow T-shirt” is giving the reader a small image of the house itself, of how it is burned to its skeleton, the green shorts being the lawn, the yellow T-shirt being the paint on the walls and the outside of the house. The colors portray the image of happiness and calm, but the word “grubby” gives it another image. “Grubby” now tells of how the house, even though it looks fine from a faraway distance, as you move closer, you see there are many flaws, that the house is not as perfect as you imagined.
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The house is attempting to show its happiness and get over the pain of being burnt and left behind, and yet, in its “protective shell” there are cracks that grow into crevices over time. “Holding my cindery, non-existent, radiant flesh” The house’s soul is explaining how these bright colors, though just the outer layer of this house, it holds the real “house” together, just like the other parts of the house mentioned in the poem such as the spoon, the dishes, and the kettle hold the house together, to keep the house’s mind from collapse and defeat.
The flesh is radiant means the core of the house; the “mind” of the house is still safe, still pure and unsoiled by evil. “Incandescent” This final word of the poem summarizes the whole poem into one word. This one word describes all the positive thoughts, hopes, memories, and wishes of this devastated house, how even at the worst moments and after the tragedy, there is still something good within the house. It represents the goodness of this house, and what it has learned from suffering. But, the word incandescent also represents evil and suffering, because the fire that ruined this house was bright and hot.
The fire showed all what pain had done to this house, showed its true feelings. Therefore, incandescent is what completes this poem; it shows both sides of the house’s mind and soul, how it is tortured, and yet, it is still protected by hope. Without incandescence, there would be no fire, and without fire, this poem would never have started, because fire was what caused the house’s soul to discover happiness and learn from pain. The theme of this poem is protection and weakness. Weakness because of torture and consequences, but protection because of hope, belief, and desperation.
Most of the poem talks of light or dark, each side representing how the house feels. In the beginning of this poem, you see the bare skeleton of the house, the nakedness without safety. As you read on, and especially into the last stanzas, you feel a sense of protection, as if the house has something more than just its skeleton standing. The final two stanzas (those I have chosen) summarize the house’s feelings, how protection and destruction are linked together, and how one cannot be anything without the other. The last two stanzas also show the character maturing and growing, as they learn to survive.
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