The Hospital Window Essay Research Paper The

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The Hospital Window Essay, Research Paper The death of a loved one can put unimaginable stress on the loved ones of the deceased. This stress can make one’s life chaotic and unpleasant for long periods of time if the mourners do not underezd the death. James Dickey, who believes, “poetry is the center of the creative wheel,” wrote the poem, “The Hospital Window”. The relationship between mourners and death becomes apparent in this “simple 54-line poem . . . about a parent’s dying as a transformative experience, and the possibility that love conquers fear.” The poem takes place on a city street adjacent to a large hospital. In “The Hospital Window”, Dickey uses images which represent life and death to demonstrate that the death of a loved one can make one

enter a surrealistic state, in which everyday occurrences appear to be heavenly; however, if one can overcome the death by underezding it, he can then return to a peaceful life. In the beginning of the poem, the images which distinguish life and death show that the speaker perceives normal events as spiritual after leaving his father’s hospital room. Dickey’s persona enters this state when he is on the hospital elevator. As the elevator brings him down to ground level, he remembers his father lying in his room above “in a blue light.”(3) According to Gertrude Jobes, the color blue represents heaven and God. Therefore, its shining down on the speaker’s father represents God’s presence with his father. For any other observer, the light is obviously “shed by a tinted

window,”(4) but the speaker’s state of mind leads him to believe that the light shines from heaven. Once outside, the speaker turns to face the hospital. As he turns, he sees that “[each] window possesses the sun / As though it burned there on a wick.”(13) To Jobes, the sun represents life. A candle wick burns for only a certain period of time, and then dies out. Therefore, the speaker believes that the reflection of the sun in the windows is actually his father’s life. When the speaker reaches out to the sun, and “[waves], like a man catching fire,”(15) he tries to grab his father’s life back. At that moment, the glare from the sun reflects in a certain way, making “all the deep-dyed windowpanes flash.”(16) This flash, in the speaker’s mind, is God reaching

out for the father’s soul. Also, the flash mocks the speaker’s attempts at grabbing his father’s life from the grips of death. Furthermore, the speaker visualizes God’s presence by “all the white rooms / [turning] the color of Heaven.”(18) To the speaker, the heavenly white color of the rooms represents purity and innocence, as described in Jobes, while others see merely white rooms. As the speaker studies the windows, he sees that all reflect “flames”(21), or the candles of the living still burning. It is then he realizes that his father’s window is different. It reflects “the bright, erased blankness of nothing.”(23) The flickering light visible in all of the other rooms is not visible in his father’s room because he is dead. Once the speaker realizes

his father is dead, he can start to overcome the death. In the middle of the poem, images representing life and death show how the speaker overcomes his father’s death. After experiencing the madness of death, the speaker transitions from not believing in the death to realizing that his father is leaving him. First, the speaker realizes that his father’s body remains in his room “[in] the shape of his death still living”(25). Death still living represents the father’s dead body, with the soul still alive within. This thought causes a madness within the speaker because he realizes that his father’s soul, oreverything he was, may remain within the corpse forever. Eventually, his father’s soul “lifts [its] arms out of stillness at last”(31), causing the speaker to