Family Secrets

3 March 2017

Every Family Has Its Secrets Locked Away Where No One Else Can See Them In many families there is some sort of dysfunction. In some families it might be abuse while in others it might just be a secret that no one in the family wants to tell. The poem “Commitments” by Essex Hemphill shows a prime example of the latter situation. This poem is a good example of a secret that the family does not want to tell because it is about the son being gay. It is unclear throughout the poem if the family actually is aware of the son being gay or if they are aware of it and they are covering it up, but either way it is being covered up.

In the last few lines of the poem the persona says: “I am always there for critical emergencies, graduations, the middle of the night. I am the invisible son.

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In the family photos nothing appears out of character. I smile as I serve my duty. ” This quote is basically saying that the persona does his duty as son to keep up family appearances, but when he is not needed he leaves again, and when he leaves he goes back to his real life. It seems that this persona gives so much to his family to make them appear to be the “perfect” family.

The persona hides his real life from them to make everything seem “normal” and when the family does not need him he leaves. It does not seem that the family gives anything back to him, but they could be giving back to him. The persona might have told the he was gay and asked them to keep it a secret, or they may not be giving back to him. The family might not even know he is gay and therefore he is holding in his secret and lying to the family. In that situation, the family would not be giving back because they are not able to give back.

In conclusion, every family has its secrets. These secrets may be known throughout the family, or one family member but either way the secrets are covered up may only know them. Families often cover up secrets to keep the appearance of being a happily functioning family. Essex Hemphill’s poem “Commitments” is a perfect example of the cover-ups that families may experience. References: This poem was not in my book so I wrote it down when we read it in class, therefore I do not have a reference.

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