Milk and Honey Themes: Rupi Kaur’s Lessons

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Milk and Honey" by Rupi Kaur. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What are the main milk and honey themes? What lessons does Rupi Kaur impart in her poetry collection?

The milk and honey themes follow the trajectory of Kaur’s life so far. Beginning with oppression and ending with her healing and discovery of her self-worth, the poetry collections shares the lessons Kaur has learned.

Read on for the main milk and honey themes you need to know.

Milk and Honey Themes

Rupi Kaur experienced oppression and abuse throughout her life. From an uncle who raped her as a child to a father who demanded she stay silent, she grew up in an environment that taught her she was worthless. However, as she grew up, her experiences with love and heartbreak taught her how to find the beauty in herself and how to heal in the face of painful experiences. 

milk and honey is an award-winning collection of poems that dive into the themes of sexual assault, the complexity of relationships, and the healing power of self-love. Through her use of beautiful language, Kaur takes you on her emotional journey to love herself in the face of painful and oppressive experiences. Here are the four milk and honey themes.

Abuse and Oppression

Kaur compares her journey through childhood to someone pinning her legs to the ground then demanding she stand. She felt as though people expected a lot from her while actively working against her instead of supporting her. Throughout her childhood, she experienced the fallout of a distant father, gender oppression, and sexual assault.

Love and Sex

As Kaur got older, she began to discover the true meaning of love. Though her trauma initially created significant obstacles, she began to break down those barriers through her recognition of the power of mothers and her first significant relationship.

Heartbreak and Mixed Emotions

While her first serious relationship started in a strong place, it deteriorated over the years. This resulted in a nasty breakup that caused a variety of emotions to surface. Immediately following the breakup, she grappled with her mixed feelings and tried to hold onto the self-worth she’d begun to build.

Healing and Moving On

As she moved on from her first love, Kaur learned that the key to happiness in life is self-love. Throughout her childhood, she felt defined by her surroundings. In her relationship, she felt defined by her lover. With distance from both of those, she realized the only person who could define who she was as a human being was herself.

Milk and Honey Themes: Rupi Kaur’s Lessons

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Rupi Kaur's "Milk and Honey" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Milk and Honey summary:

  • How Rupi Kaur suffered sexual assault and oppression as a child
  • What red flags Kaur missed in her toxic relationship
  • How Kaur was able to heal and embrace her femininity

Rina Shah

An avid reader for as long as she can remember, Rina’s love for books began with The Boxcar Children. Her penchant for always having a book nearby has never faded, though her reading tastes have since evolved. Rina reads around 100 books every year, with a fairly even split between fiction and non-fiction. Her favorite genres are memoirs, public health, and locked room mysteries. As an attorney, Rina can’t help analyzing and deconstructing arguments in any book she reads.

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