Interpretation of My Grandfather's Tools Essay

938 Words Nov 29th, 2013 4 Pages
Cynthia Livengood-Fair
Professor Rob Harrill
English 101
6 November 2013

Interpretation of “My Grandfather's Tools” by Jim Daniels
This poem brings memories of the smell of fresh sawed wood and learning to drive nails when I was five. Daniels tells of his grandfather's life. A man who worked a lifetime doing what he loves. This is a sad tale not only of his grandfather's life and love of his work. It is also the even sadder story of the decline of the craftsman's trade that was once the backbone of American Industry. It is a tale of the disappearance of the pride that we American's once took in the Craftsman’s trade skills. The passing of the innovations, inventions and insights that once fueled our nation to greatness.
He is
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Because, after a lifetime of work he has little, financially, to show for his passion. As mentioned in reference to “his fistful of bills-”(14). He has always simply taken pride in the knowledge that he has the experience and skills to teach to those who would listen and learn.
“His old Packard still runs / despite all logic—“(17-18). Here you imagine his old car still runs because of his hard earned skill and knowledge. “His eternal child” (19). An allusion to America's obsession with our automobiles? For “as long as he can get the parts” (20) he'll keep his baby running. As so many of the old things fade away from our lives and memories, he'll not let his old Packard go for lack of trying.
That “black magic balm under his nails,” (23) is the magic that can work with hands, while he “still (has) a firm grip on the tools.” (24). He will keep performing these miracles, as long as his strength and will remain. This is the legacy of a man who loves what he has done his whole life.
Then comes the story of his decline. For my own grandfather it was not his hands, but his heart that stopped working. Sadly, with Daniels' grandfather the end was not so swift or kind. “My grandfather sleeps in his front room / while I pound on the door / a radio apart on the floor.” (25-27).
Daniels' here seems to write with the sadness of watching a loved one's decline, “alone with his tools / the reflection of steel.” (28-29). Seemingly like a
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