Freedom and Fear in The Red Hat

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In Rachel Hadas “The Red Hat”, the speaker discusses the separation of emotional bonds between a parent and a child. As the parents no longer walk their child to school, they discover new feelings of emptiness and fear. Although their mornings are not much different than before, they feel strange without the task of caring for their child. For Hadas, the purpose of the poem is to illustrate the loneliness of a parent whose child is becoming independent.

Submitted: August 04, 2012

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Submitted: August 04, 2012

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Freedom and Fear in “The Red Hat”

In Rachel Hadas “The Red Hat”, the speaker discusses the separation of emotional bonds between a parent and a child.  As the parents no longer walk their child to school, they discover new feelings of emptiness and fear.  Although their mornings are not much different than before, they feel strange without the task of caring for their child.  For Hadas, the purpose of the poem is to illustrate the loneliness of a parent whose child is becoming independent. 

In the beginning of the poem, the speaker states how their child has become semi-independent.  When the mother says that their son “Now…. / officially walks to school alone” (1-2).  The use of the word “Now” shows both disdain by the parents and, excitement by the child over his new independence (1).  However, this freedom is not complete; the parents still keep a watchful eye over their child as they “track him” from across the street (4).  The speaker’s connotation in this phrase shows the fear that the parents have with their son’s safety.  And by stealing “Glances”, but not making “eye contact,” the son knows that he is safely protected by his parents.  It is important to note the irony of the son wanting to become independent, while also experiencing the fear of being independent. 

In line eight Hadas shows that the ties between a mother and son begin to separate as the child becomes independent.  When the mother says, “these parallel paths part/he goes alone from there”, this is a metaphor to the separation as mother and child (9, 10).  Although, both parents watch as their child disappears as he walks to school alone.  The author uses figurative language to show how the parents “love and fear” for their child “stretches, elastic” along with the child’s travel to school (11).  As the young child is “now….hustled forward by the pull/of something far more powerful than school” (15, 16). When the mother describes how the child now quickly heads to school, this is a paradox to how fearful the child is during the beginning of the poem.  The phrase “hustled….pull” shows the excitement that the child has with his freedom and independence (15).

The last stanza of the poem presents the loneliness of the mornings both parents feel after their child has left for school.  Although their mornings are no “longer than before” they are empty without their child (18).  Both parents feel they have extra time now that they do not walk their child to school.  Hadas carefully uses the allusion of a boat drifting at sea to describe the loneliness that both parents feel with the emptiness of their time.  The author uses the phrases “wavering in the eddies of this change / empty, unanchored, perilously light” to show a comparison of how the parents feel, and being lost at sea (20, 21).  This comparison shows the fear associated with the unknown of being separated from their child who has become independent.

The purpose of the poem by Hadas is to illustrate the loneliness and fear parents feel whose child has become independent.  During the beginning of the poem, the author shows that the child has become semi-independent, and this has hidden feelings of fear in both the child and the parents.  Later in the poem Hadas shows the ties between a mother and son begin to separate as the child becomes independent.  This separation stretches the love that the Childs parents have as they watch him go on his separate path to school.  The last stanza of the poem presents the loneliness both parents feel as their child has left for school.

 

 

 

 

 Work Cited

 

Hadas, Rachel. “The Red HatThe Bedford Introduction to Literature. Ed. Michael Meyer. 9th ed. Boston: Bedford / St. Martin’s, 2011. 958. Print.

 

 

 

 


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