The burial dress is the major focus for the poem. The reader is shown a scene where the grandmother shows her granddaughter a black dress she has prepared for her death. This is an event which takes place regularly. The display of the dress is an occasion where both personna’s reflect on their relationship with life and death. The poet creates the idea that the granddaughter has been through the repitition of “from time to time she leads me”. However, the poet indicates that the granddaughter thinks the whole thing to be strange or morbid through the presentation of the first line; it seems harsh in its directness which creates the sense of strangeness. The effective use of language such as ‘alone’, ‘shadows’, ‘fornidden’ support this idea. The poem effectively creates an image of the dress through using language features such as adjectives and descriptive words. the grandmothers attitude to death is shown by the fact that she has organised and prepared for her own death; prepared for one last modesty. The granddaughter presents her views about how strange the ritual is by the idea that it’s secret, the morbid feeling and curiosity about the dress. The purpose of this poem is to show cultural differences and customs in a major life experience, that is death. The poet uses different generations to achieve this purpose. The granddaughter’s feeling of strangeness echoes our own thoughts but we begin to understand as the granddaughter does due to the fascination death holds for us all and the empathy achieved with the granddaughter’s secret vists to the closet. We come to understand the cultural need for “one last modesty”….
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