What does the first man hold back in the poem ‘The Cold Within’ and why?
The first person hold back her log as she noticed a black man around the fire . Her discriminatory attitude towards the colour of blacks stops her from sharing the wood. This point outs the grudge and hatred between the whites and blacks.
Their dying fire in need of logs,
But the first man held his back,
For, of the faces round the fire,
He noticed one was black.
The above four lines have it all. The first man holds back his log. This is because he found one Black man around the fire. He found it unacceptable to help a Black person by lighting the fire with his own log of wood, even if it were to hurt himself otherwise. This gives a hint to the height of discrimination between the White and the Black — the colour prejudice prevalent in human societies.
[Here, it is worth mentioning that in some collections, the first ‘human’ is mentioned as a White woman. Especially ICSE in their collection ‘Treasure Trove’ has mentioned it as ‘she’ and ‘hers’. So, in these cases, students should write answers taking it as a woman.]