In Those Winter Sundays by Robert Hayden, the author uses imagery, syntax, and diction to convey the convoluted relationship between the father and son showcased in the poem. The sacrificial love the father obviously has for his son is shown through his assiduous efforts to make the house warm on a frigid sunday morning. Hayden is able to describe how much the father is willing to sacrifice to make his son warm by showing how the father works to warm the house. He tells the reader of his “cracked hands that ached” (Hayden, line 3) and how even on a day of rest, he still wakes to make “banked fires blaze” (Hayden, line 4). The reader can paint a picture of the father’s exhaust and just how cold it is outside. By using the word “labor” instead of “work” in line four, the author is able to describe to the reader how intense the job is that the father is performing; it is physically exerting and time consuming.
In line 14, the phrase “love’s austere and lonely offices” (Hayden, line 14) speaks to how love has it’s adversities in the sense that it requires sacrifice and responsibility. Love is not always this glittering fantasy of abandon and the son is speaking of how he was not aware of this as a boy. In the poem, the reader notices how the son speaks “indifferently” (Hayden, line 10) to his father despite the effort the father makes to make his son happy. One might even make the connection that the son is speaking coldly to his father.
In turn, the father would experience cold inside and outside the house, but still continues to work for his son nevertheless because of his unconditional love for his child.Hayden uses long and short sentences in his poem to emphasize his thesis: that he regrets the way he treated his father. Lines one and two are established to draw sympathy from the reader for the father. He gets up early on a sunday morning in the “blueblack cold” (Hayden, line 2) and lights a furnace for his family. His father’s laborious efforts are delivered as a nonstop thought, finishing with a period in line five. This may have been to layer responsibility upon responsibility and sacrifice upon sacrifice.
The brevity of the last sentence, “No one ever thanked him.” (Hayden, line 5) places emphasis on the guilt that is manifesting in the narrator for the way he treated his father. The use of imagery, diction, and syntax effectively conveys the relationship between the father and son seen in Those Winter Sundays. Hayden’s combined use of these devices focuses the reader’s thoughts on the regret the son has for the way he disregarded his father in his adolescence. This poem is a prime example of how a parent’s love for their child is never overshadowed by ignorance.