Illuminations And Book Ends Essay

1097 Words 5 Pages
In both ‘Illuminations’ and ‘Book Ends’, Harrison presents his relationship with his family as distanced and fractured, which largely seems to be caused by his extensive education. Hailing from a working class background, Harrison's parents lack education and are described by him to be ‘inarticulate’ - a trait that has weakened their relationship through intellectual differences, and by extension, social differences as well. The relationship between Harrison and his father is particularly strained due to this educational gap and is only worsened by the death of Harrison’s mother. As detailed in “Book Ends”, Harrison's mother tried to bring them closer, but following her demise, the relationship fell apart. Despite the ongoing tensions between …show more content…
His career as a poet and the label of ‘scholar’ given to him has ironically resulted in a cultural displacement of sorts among his family; in “Illuminations”, Harrison describes how “no one spoke except about the weather and not about his football of my art” during their “silent teas”. His education has given him the means to propel himself further in terms of class and knowledge, yet it has taken away the means by which he can have a normal conversation at the same level as others. This irony is also explored in “Book Ends” as Harrison, when presented with the opportunity to write words for his mother’s gravestone, is unable to “squeeze more love into their stone” than his father is able to; Harrison is the “bright boy at description” as his father describes him, yet he cannot match his “scrawling, mis-spelt, mawkish, stylistically appalling” words. In both instances of irony in “Illuminations” and “Book Ends”, it appears as though his education has failed him and to an extent his parents, as years of Harrison’s toil and hard work at school has led to him having to sacrifice any type of close bond with them. Furthermore, critics have mentioned that there is a “sense in which Harrison wants to ‘vindicate’ poetry, to be eloquent in the service of ordinary speech, but without betraying his own intelligence …show more content…
In the third part of “Illuminations”, Harrison expresses his wishes that she was more dignified on her deathbed and is horrified to discover that her final words were “my teeth!”; he explains that “being without them, even on a stretch, was more undignified than being dead”. Through this it is shown that Harrison has great respect for his mother. It is evident in “Book Ends” that Harrison's mother tried to keep him and his father close despite their differences: he explains that “she's not here to tell us we're alike” when him and his father as forced to spend time together following his mother's demise, and this marks the beginning of further deterioration in Harrison's familial

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