L.M Montgomery is a poet known for using wit and humour in her poems. The poem 'The Grumble Family' is also one such poem that humorously portrays a family that always grumbles despite of being blessed with abundance. The poet sarcastically talks about people who do not live in peace with what they have. Some people only focus on the negative and what they do not have, or what they could have gained more. The poet focuses on the theme of gratitude and the peaceful life that comes along with it. She personifies grumble and gives it a fancy family to portray this thought.
Montgomery introduces this family in the first stanza by giving a negative shade to them. She says that there is a family that nobody likes to talk to. It makes the readers wonder as to what the family must have probably done to earn the wrath of everyone equally. It is not just one family member that people do not talk to, but the entire family. The family represents the entire group of people who always keep complaining and being negative. They live in the street called the complaining street. Rather than saying plainly that the family is complaining, the poet makes it wittier by associating streets, houses and lanes with the family to embody their personality. They live in the city called 'Never-Are-Satisfied', which is their approach to life. They are never satisfied with whatever they get. They become greedy and ask for more. A river called discontent runs beside their house, showing they are discontent with life. When one is not satisfied, there is always the darkness that is attached to their life. This makes them live a discontented life.
They were not satisfied with anything
The family literally growls at this and that, showing that they do not need a reason to complain. Even if there is no reason, they make one up from the existing experiences and start growling about it. The word growl itself shows that they have an animalistic approach to life. No matter how big or worthy they receive things; something is amiss for them. For example, if they have a house, they would complain that they do not have a mansion. If they have a mansion, they would complain about not having enough luxuries in it. It did not matter whether their stage was high or humble; they would not stop grumbling.
They growled about everything
Montgomery gives a list of instances that the family would make up just because they could find fault with it and complain. When something bad happens, one can choose to see the positive in it and work on coming out of it stronger, or they can sit and analyse all the things that went wrong and crib about it. But the cribbing part does not help them to overcome the situation. Negative people look for reasons to start with their complaining cycle. The grumble family looks at the weather and no matter what temperature or season it is, it is never perfect for them. The poet says that it is either too hot nor too cold for them. These are the only binaries that exist in temperature. But even when it is spring, they complain about the weather being too hot, and when it is drizzling it is too cold for them. Nothing is good enough as they scold both summer and winter alike. This shows that the weather is not the problem, rather their perspective is.
They grumble about any weather
The poet also says that there is nothing that could possibly go right with the people one might meet, who live down the gloomy complaining street. The right kind of folks can see a ray of hope even in the darkest times, and these people tend to see only the missing parts even in the greatest of the blessings. Where there is so much negativity, the place is filled with a gloomy atmosphere. When positive people see the rain, they get overjoyed by the fact that the crops are receiving water, there is cool weather, and that it is pleasant, whereas the negative person would complain how they are not able to step out and how summer was always warm. But when it is summer, the same people complain that it is too hot and that it would be nice if it were raining. And if they were not able to find anything to complain about, and everything went on as they pleased, then they would grumble about not having anything to grumble about. People who are so used to grumbling about anything might become restless if they do not do so often.
When people grumble about things and impose their negativity on others, they rarely notice the effect they are producing on other people. A very anxious person can get even more anxious when someone points out only the complexities of a situation. The poet says that it is very queer that the grumble family does not notice that they have been grumbling. It is important that the ones who make a mistake understand the depth of the mistake and acknowledge it.
When one is criticised for something or their mistake is pointed out, they are reluctant to accept it due to a fear of being judged. The poet says that the members of the grumble family do not accept or take the 'Grumble' as their family name. This shows that they know that grumbling is bad and understand its impact. But it is quite easy to look at other people's flaws and comment on them. We often complain and brand other people with labels such as selfish, negative, unkind etc., without even realising that we might also be exhibiting the same characteristics. We do not own up to being a part of something wrong. Likewise, a grumbler does not own up that he is connected or has any part with the grumbling attitude.
People deny that they are part of grumble family
There is a saying that 'Birds of the same feather flock together'. The company that one keeps is very important in shaping one's personality. When one associates with negative people, they also imbibe the character. This happens if they stay too long, as external circumstances have the power to influence one's mind. The poet says if one stays too long with the grumble family, they might also behave like that. They will slowly start learning the complaining ways and act like them. The person might not even recognise that they are being manipulated or impacted, and before they realise will get adopted into the grumble family, meaning that they would exhibit the same grumbling habit.
People adapt the grumbling behaviour if they stay too long
The poet talks about the ill effects of grumbling and the fact that people can easily be strayed away into imbibing the same habit just by staying with them for a long time. The effect of one's external sources or the people they attach themselves to shapes one's personality. The poet ends the poem with a warning note that it is always better to stay away from people who spread negativities and are never satisfied with whatever they have. Even if we get joyous by an event, they would give the situation a negative shade and hence it is even more troublesome.
It is important to walk with a smile
It is wise to keep ourselves away from the complaining street that the grumble family lives in so that we might escape the clutches of pessimism. The poet also clearly states that no one goes voluntarily, rather might end up there by wandering. One must be wary of one's social circle all the time. We should never grumble for the minute discomforts we experience since that will make people believe that we are also part of the grumblers' family. Once we get branded, it is difficult to erase. Also, it is not wise to growl for everything, rather one must have a positive outlook on life. The poet says that people must learn to walk with a smile during times of trouble, indicating that worrying does not heal anything. Problems are common in everyone's life and sitting and complaining about them will not solve them. One should have a song in heart indicating that they should be brimming with joy and positivity the same way one feels when listening to music. It is quite usual for things to go wrong sometimes and it is up to us to make it a very negative experience or a learning experience. If we focus on the good and try to learn from the mistakes, and be satisfied with whatever we have, we can lead a happy life. Even if our station is high or humble, we will never belong to the grumble family if we have this positive outlook.