“Spelling father” by Marshall Soulful Jones is an inserting and meaningful poem. It highlights the struggle and sedulous care of a single parent. The poem begins with a strange dream that shows the speaker as a competing six-year-old. This genius six-year-old child brilliantly spells complex words at the National Spelling bee contest. Everything goes well till the final round when one word tucks his way to victory. The last word was easy for the audience and master, but the simplicity of these words leaves the speaker amazed.

 At this point, the seemingly simple contest takes an ironic turn, and the writer begins to unwrap the text’s intended meaning. To our surprise, the speaker gets confused while pronouncing this simple word; he mixes it with another term, mother. The mix-up makes the master recheck her question that demands the spelling of father. As soon as the master tries to announce his defeat, he jumps in to explain his point. Keeping the painstaking life of her mother in mind, he speaks about men who left their families in the lurch. First, they prefer extending their families, but once their wish is answered, they part ways making a single mother solely responsible for this. 

For him, his mother is am the epitome of undaunted courage. She is the one who played a dual role in life just to provide him the comfort of home. Her mother chose hardships and challenges but never made him realize her pain. She put him in the window of opportunity so that he could choose a better life. Her sacrifices paved a glorious way for the speaker. Unfortunately, the word father is a deadbeat. He saw his mother playing this role brilliantly; she put her blood, sweat, and tears into his positive upbringing. Therefore, to him, his father is his mother, and he loves her a lot.

“Spelling Father” by Marshall Soulful Jones– Themes

Spelling father by Marshall exhibits many themes such as passion, hardships of man versus luck, and parental love. To execute his ideas more gently, the writer has divided this poem into three major parts that make the readers travel from childhood to maturity. The first part introduced us to a passionate child whose purpose is to win the competition as he smoothly enters the final round. 

However, in the second part, the innocence of a child shines aptly when he mixes two words, father and mother. This conscious swapping contains a deeper meaning and logical thought behind it. The fact is, he has never seen his father doing anything for him. The description hints at the departure of his father during his early years. However, his departure made his mother’s life so difficult. She became the center of the speaker’s world. 

Despite cursing her fate and indifferent life, she put all her efforts into giving him a life full of opportunities and choices. She never let him feel that a single parent is bringing him up. Since his world encompasses only one caring mother, the father was spelled as the mother for him. This meaningful gesture displays that he owes his mother; he loves her and feels confident to show it to the world.

Poetic Elements in “Spelling Father” by Marshall Soulful Jones

Marshall has used various literary and poetic devices in this poem to execute his ideas more impressively, such as imagery, symbolism, metaphor, and other rhetoric devices. Imagery plays a crucial role in this poem. This powerful device enabled the writer to make his people feel and visualize the strength and hardships of his mother. It makes them feel the pain of broken families. Words like fathers are master gardeners, water with blood, sweat, and tears connect the readers with the writer’s idea about the children raised by single parents. 

Similarly, he has used various symbols to show his mother’s bold and courageous past, who took everything on himself and paved the way for his bright future. Finally, the third most crucial device is a metaphor; the simple word father is a metaphor for struggle, hardship, dutifulness, and patience. He finds all these qualities in his mother; therefore, he pays tribute to his mother by spelling mother instead of the father when it comes to spelling father.


Marshall’s exhaustive and absorbing analysis of the poem Spelling Father shows his unbound love for his mother. He loves her so much that he does not hesitate to disclose her harrowing plight to the world while standing at a National Spelling bee contest. Perhaps he wanted people to owe their parents. But, on the other hand, he may want to make us realize how parents take everything to themselves just to shape our lives.

See Also:

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