Analysis Of My Father's Love Letters By Yusef Komunyakaa

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Familial Redemption Yusef Komunyakaa’s “My Father’s Love Letters” and Li-Young Lee’s “Persimmons” are poems about the familial relationship between a father and a child and the understanding between the two. In Komunyakaa’s poem, the child writes letters to his mother as his father dictates what to say in order to woo back his wife. In Lee’s poem traces the speaker’s life as a whole going back from childhood to adulthood as he tries to get assimilated into a new culture and how that has affected his own relationships with his family. Both Komunyakaa and Lee explore the relationships between the speakers and their fathers through a loss of identity and communication; however, Komunyakaa understand the father in a more retrospective manner,…show more content…
In “My Father’s Love Letters”, the father “asks [his] child to write a letter” as he dictates what to say (line 3). Writing these letters is a way for the speaker and his father to bond. It is one way for the child to learn what love is even though his father is abusive. Although, the child himself may have also been abused, as at one point they sat “in the quiet brutality” (line 19). But, the writing of the letters seems give a powerful sense that the father does somehow love his child as he asks him to write them. The father knows that he is illiterate and that his child is more literate than he is, making him more capable of writing to his wife. The father also knows that both his wife and child are still connected as they both probably write to each other back and forth, with the mother sending postcards to the child. Therefore, both sides of the communication (mother and father) give the child some sense of security that both parents are still a part of him. In “Persimmons”, the speaker connects with his father upon finding a painting of persimmons that his father had painted. When the father raises his hands and “asks, Which is this? / This is persimmons, Father.” there is a connection between them that is created (lines 81-82). The persimmon was a way for the speaker to introduce American culture to his father. It becomes a bridge between the father and the speaker to reconnect and understand love. Without communication there is this absence of familial love, of becoming distant from each other and of that love that creates a loss of the speaker’s own cultural
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