Michael Lassell’s poem How to Watch Your Brother Die presents a unique situation between two brothers where one brother’s sexual orientation forms a barrier that discontinues all contact between the siblings.
This barrier collapses when the narrator discovers his brother’s terminal illness and impending death. The long lost brotherly love finally resurfaces as the narrator sobs over his regret for shutting out his brother for so many years.
The poem displays a societal controversy between the acceptance and the expulsion of homosexuals into the family unit. The traditional family model completely prohibits homosexuals and prompts immediate altercation of their orientation or face utter exile. This narrator reflects this attitude when, after his brother’s funeral, forgives himself “for not wanting to know him after he told [the narrator].”
The narrator’s goal for a traditional “doll-house” model family galvanizes him to expel his brother in attempt to achieve happiness within his family. Similar to Kingsolver’s point in “Stone Soup”, the brother realizes that having a perfect doll-house family fails to completely coincide with having a happy and loving family. The narrator’s deep and hidden love for his gay brother presents a young and liberal shift in society where families embrace all of their children in an equally loving manner regardless of their sexual orientation.