How Does Robert Hayden Create Tension In 'The Whipping'

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The poem “The Whipping” by Robert Hayden is about the past repeating itself. It shows that the woman is haunted by the memories of her past, fueled by rage and the only means of handling the situation is by taking her anger out on the child. The narrator sees the situation as :“The old woman across the way/is whipping the boy again/and shouting to the neighborhood/her goodness and his wrongs” (Hayden 1-4). This is the first indication that this has happened before, along with the poem’s first mention of the idea that past repeats itself. Hayden uses diction and phrases to emphasize mood: “She strikes and strikes the shrilly circling/boy till the stick breaks / in her hand. His tears are rainy weather/to woundlike memories:/ (9-12). The word “shrilly” shows that Hayden is describing the boy as he is filled with fear and is struggling to escape.…show more content…
This stanza is clearly showing the climax of conflict and tension between the two people along with the painful memories from before: “My head gripped in bony vise/of knees, the writing struggle/to wrench free, the blows, the fear/worse tha¬n blows that hateful” (13-16). Hayden writes, “Words could bring, the face that I/no longer knew or loved…/Well, it is over now, it is over, and the boy sobs in this room./ (17-20) This stanza includes a structural change by saying “no longer knew or loved…”. On the other hand, Hayden repeated: “it is over” twice to show that the fear and anger between the two is now at rest. Hayden shows the peak of climax is over, and the woman is finally done with whipping the child, reminding herself of the lifelong hidings she has to bear: “And the woman leans muttering against/ a tree, exhausted, purged--/avenged in part for lifelong hidings/she has had to bear” (21-24) The woman had to hide her past but that has only made her life

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