Maxine Kumin's Poem 'Woodchucks'

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In Maxine Kumin’s poem “Woodchucks”, the speaker’s tone is informative, but through anger the speaker makes a drastic change and the tone becomes murderous and obsessed. The speaker’s shift in tone is related to the radical climax the speaker has with the woodchucks in her garden. After she shoots one of the woodchucks, the speaker becomes entranced and captivated by killing. The speaker professes that before this she was a pacifist, but after dropping some of the woodchucks, she turns murderous and hunts endlessly for the last one. In the first stanza of the poem, the speaker’s tone is informative, because she is revealing her intent to kill the woodchucks who have wrongfully invaded her garden. In the first two lines, the speaker says that…show more content…
When the speaker says “They brought down the marigolds as a matter of course” it shows how she expected the woodchucks to behave badly, but it still shows her frustration with them in her garden (10). In this verse it reveals how although she knows that it is only logical and natural for the woodchucks, she is still angry that they brought down her marigolds. In the next verse the gardener says that that the woodchucks have “ taken over the vegetable patch” (11). This shows how the speaker is furious that she is not in control of her own garden anymore, but the vermin she recently tried to exterminate have taken what is rightfully hers. The speaker goes on to say that the woodchucks have “beheaded her carrots” (12). The speaker uses the word beheaded, because that what she wants to do to the woodchucks, she wants them to suffer the way they made her garden suffer. The stanza illustrates the speakers future intent to murder the vermin in her garden, and it also shows the anger that fuels her future…show more content…
The speaker says “ he keeps me cocked and ready day after day after day” showing how she has become obsessed with eradicating every last woodchuck who wronged her and her garden (26). The repetition in “day after day after day” illustrates the speakers unnatural obsession with the complete killing of the woodchucks that ravaged and raided her garden. The speaker then describes her life awaiting the old rodent to appear “All night I hunt his humped-up form” (27). The speaker has become obsessed with killing the rodents, she feels powerful and is relentless towards the old woodchuck who already lost the rest of his family. The speaker then says something that startles the reader “If only they’d all consented to die unseen, gassed underground the quiet Nazi way” (29-30). The speaker uses the word Nazi, because that’s how she sees herself. She hunts the woodchucks relentlessly and without mercy just like Nazis did to the Jews. The fifth stanza leaves the reader feeling sorry for the speaker and her new life as an obsessed killer. “Woodchucks” by Maxine Kumin’s tone shifts as the speaker’s relationship with the woodchucks grows worse and worse. The speaker is a regular gardener who tries to get rid of the vermin in her garden, but as they tease the speaker and dodge all of her attacks she
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