Jane Kenyon’s The Blue Bowl Essay

1322 Words6 Pages
Kenyon’s criticism of burial and the mourning process and the manner in which it fails to provide a sense of closure for those who have lost a loved one is the main underlying theme in The Blue Bowl. Through her vivid description of both the natural setting and the grief-stricken emotional overtone surrounding the burial of a family’s house pet and the events that follow in the time after the cat is put to rest, Kenyon is able to invoke an emotional response from the reader that mirrors that of the poem’s actual characters. Her careful use of diction and the poem’s presentation through a first-person perspective, enables Kenyon to place the reader in the context of the poem, thus making the reader a participant rather than a mere…show more content…
By telling the reader that the cat has been buried with its bowl, Kenyon illustrates what intention the family has in burying not only the cat’s body but also in burying a main symbol of the cat’s life, which is to eliminate the cat’s influence on their lives altogether, in order to attempt to “move on.” The futility of this attempt to “scrape sand and gravel” onto the cat in order to begin the healing process is illustrated by Kenyon’s careful diction in describing the cat’s resting place as merely, “the hole.” Since it is, “the,” hole, it does not in fact belong to the cat. The bowl is referred to as, “his,” bowl, yet the hole does not attain this same label. This difference in description allows the reader to see Kenyon’s main criticism regarding the nature of graves and post-mortem rituals that are intended to help those who mourn the dead cope, which is that once a living thing is gone only that which was part of the being’s life can be permanently attached to it. Because graves and burials are not part of the actual life of the now-deceased, Kenyon urges the reader to devaluate their role in mourning because simply putting a loved one out of sight does not eliminate their existence. The next stanza describes the cat in great detail, referring to “his long red fur, the white feathers between his toes, and his long, not to say aquiline, nose (5-9).” This description is used as proof of the inability of a burial to provide the sense of

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