Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. John McKenna


Never before has society so imminently faced the breakup of its basic cell—the traditional family—or in great numbers than in the last half of the twentieth century. Like other art forms, poetry reflects the changing concerns of society, and when Heart’s Needle appeared in 1959, critics praised W. D. Snodgrass for the honest and unsentimental sequence of poems about his difficulty as a newly divorced father. Without a doubt, the effect of divorce on parent/child relationships becomes an increasingly significant theme to growing numbers of people as divorce becomes increasingly accepted and widespread in our culture; however, the loss of a child through divorce is only one aspect of damaged family relationships that Snodgrass examines. A border view of Snodgrass’s poetry about intimacy, including selections from Hearts Needle, Remains, and After Experience, reveals his concern with the larger theme of self-perpetuating, cyclic nature of family dysfunction.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of English and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright 1987 Eve R. Hermanson.

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