Death, is a very common and natural event, although it may be very hard to cope with, especially if it involves a family member. Losing someone close to you is a painful and life changing experience. But how does a child react to death? "The Lesson", a poem written by Edward Lucie Smith, explores the mind of a ten year old who has just lost his father. He first hears of the bitter news from his school principle who bluntly opens the poem with the lines, "Your father is gone". Well, like any normal human being would, he cries. But, this statement triggers a number of emotions, that in my opinion, an adult would not experience.
While crying, he begins to think, "For there and then I knew that grief had uses - that a father dead could bind the bully's fist a week or two;" This statement tells me that this child is "bullied" at school, and that he knows that the they would not pick on him out of sympathy for the loss of his father. This is obviously an emotion that an adult would not experience. The next line goes on to say, "And then I cried for shame, then for relief". Since this line comes right after the line, " that a father dead could bind the bully's fist-, I concluded that he cries for "shame", probably because he's disgusted at the fact he"d even think of benefiting somehow from his father's death. I believe he cries for "relief", because he then realizes again, that he will not be "bullied" for at least some period of time. These random emotions tell me this child is confused like any normal child would be in this type of situation. .
In addition he says "It wasn't grief. I cried for knowledge which was bitterer than any grief." The word "knowledge", to me also indicates confusion. He doesn't know why his father is dead, or if he could have done anything to save him. Because of the wide variations of emotions this child has experienced in the first half of the poem, this shows that the child is very confused.