Compare and Contrast: "The Gift" Vs. "How to Watch Your Brother Die"

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The Things You Left Behind When you read the poems “How to Watch Your Brother Die” by Michael Lassell and “The Gift” by Li-Young Lee, you think no two poems could be more different. Well it’s true, the poems are very different. You can compare both poems side-by-side and find they share almost nothing in common. Michael Lassell’s “How to Watch Your Brother Die” and Li-Young Lee’s “The Gift” share only a common use of symbolism, but differ in the tone of each and the theme. While both poems are different, they share the use of symbolism. Each poem uses symbols in different portions of the poems. In Lassell’s poem, one example is the scar on the narrator’s eyebrow. This scar symbolizes how all the narrator has left of his brother is the memories they shared. The narrator remembers how he received the scar when he sees his dying brother stares space with his lover staring at him, “Wonder what they see there. /Remember the time he was jealous and/ opened your eyebrow with a sharp stick” (Lassell 273) and “Forgive him out loud /even if he can’t /understand you. /Realize this scar will be all that’s left of him” (Lassell 274). The narrator is telling you to realize your brother will be gone soon and the memories of the past are all you really have left. Similarly, Li-Young Lee’s “The Gift” uses symbols to convey a message to the readers as well. In “The Gift”, one symbol happens to be the sliver, the narrator’s father pull out of his hand. The sliver is a symbol of his father’s gift. The narrator does not see the sliver as a painful object that has scarred him, “and I did not hold that shard/ between my fingers and think/ Metal that will bury me, / christen it Little Assassin” (Lee 277). The narrator is telling you how he felt no pain; he did not curse the sliver or his father. He uses this same gift which is not really the sliver taken from his hand, but his

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