Explanation Of The Poem 'Woodchucks' By Maxine Kumin

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My favorite poem in “Reading, Responding, and Writing” is Maxine Kumin’s “Woodchucks”. This is an intriguing story that starts off with a gardener gassing these innocent woodchucks that are only trying to survive in their home but end up eating his produce in the garden. It escalates very quickly to him becoming obsessed with murdering them until each and everyone is dead. The story is interesting because at first you think nothing of the killings but then he takes it too far and won’t stop, as if he is addicted. Though the poem might just seem to be about a gardener killing woodchucks, it really shows that if a person is pushed too far they can become obsessed, lose all humanity, and become a monster. Kumin uses diction and tone to help convey…show more content…
First the poem starts out not too serious. The gardener seems to just be annoyed with the woodchucks eating his food. “They brought down the marigolds as a matter of course/ and then took over the vegetable patch/ nipping the broccoli shoots, beheading the carrots” (10-12). Here the gardener is justifying his reason for his annoyance with them but then in the next stanza he says “The food from our mouths”(13). The reader gets a sense of more anger within the gardener. He says “a a lapsed pacifist fallen from grace”(15). Meaning even good people can do terrible things. This is when the tone gets a lot more serious, murdering woodchucks, seemingly unable to stop.. The obsession continues until there is one final woodchuck. Everyday and every night this is what the gardener thinks about and the reader gets the feeling that it will never stop. The poem ends with “If only they'd all consented to die unseen/ gassed underground the quiet Nazi way”(29-30). Fully realizing its holocaust allegory, giving the poem an even more of a disturbing, serious tone, leaving you to realize he truly is a
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