Poetry discussion questions

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Read poems 409, 236, 620, 1096, and 1668, and answer the discussion questions.

1. Dickinson was virtually unknown in her lifetime, and since her discovery has been impossible to categorize among the writers of her generation. From the limited selections you have been assigned, what attitudes to you see emerging in her narrators?

2. In "The Soul selects," Dickinson assigns gender to the soul. The Spanish term for soul, "alma," is masculine. Which gender is more appropriately that of the soul, and why?

3. "Some keep the Sabbath going to Church" strikes many readers as a Transcendal poem. Remember, though, that the composer, Dickinson, led an almost sequestered life. Is there more liberation or confinement in the "home" of the poem?

4. What virtues does "Much Madness is divinest sense" attribute to independence? What risks?

5. "A narrow Fellow in the Grass" has a male narrator. Why, given Dickinson as composer, is that fact significant?

6. What is the "blonde Assassin" in "Apparently with no surprise"? How does the assassin's activity separate Dickinson from the Transcendentalists?



Read "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," and answer the questions below.

1. Many critics see this story as an early precursor of what would become surrealism. What elements of the story seem surreal to you?

2. Does the story "feel" like a relatively recent one or a relatively old one? Why?

3. What is Peyton Farquhar's specific crime? Does it merit hanging?

4. Do you discern any clues that much of the story takes place entirely in Farquhar's mind? If so, what are they?

5. Bierce is also famous or infamous for "The Devil's Dictionary." Peruse this document, paying special attention to the definitions of optimism and optimist, patriotism and patriot. What clues do you see as to why Bierce earned the nickname "Bitter Bierce."

6. Why is there a question mark after Bierce's date of death in the biographical note that precedes the story?


Read "The Real Thing," and answer the questions below.

1. James's work frequently discusses social classes. What is the role of class in "The Real Thing"?

2. In what ways is the name Major Monarch symbolic?

3. Why do you think James makes his narrator a painter? How does this choice advance the story?

4. The narrator confides of the Monarchs, "I liked them." Why is this information important?

5. Regarding the Major, the narrator remarks, "[N]othing I could do would keep him down, so that he became useful only for representations of brawny giants." Why?

6. Why do you think the narrator ends up dismissing the Monarchs. Why won't "the real thing" do for his work?


Read "The Yellow Wallpaper" and "Why I Wrote the Yellow Wallpaper," and answer the questions below.

1. What is John attempting to do by shutting off the narrator from society?

2. What event has precipitated the narrator's problems? How is this event connected with the definition of "hysteria" as particularly a female problem?

3. How would you expect a therapist to treat the narrator today? Why has the approach changed?

4. What function does writing seem to fill for the narrator?

5. What is the ultimate effect of Weir Mitchell's "rest cure" upon the narrator?

6. Why does Gilman say she wrote "The Yellow Wallpaper?" Do you agree with her conclusion?

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Running head: CHOPLIN THE STORM 1 Choplin the Storm Institution Affiliation Date 2 CHOPLIN THE STORM Question One Despite "The Storm" been written as a sequel, I do believe it can stand alone. This is because Kate Chopin is a great well-known writer and the public does not need much convincing to purchase any of her work. Because of her credibility, the novel would stand a chance of doing well on its own. The novel does also have an intriguing plot that is well understood without it been in a sequel. This makes the novel to be complete on its own. Question Two Bobinot love Calitxa, this can be seen in a time when there was a storm and he was so worried of been out for so long as he and the son waited for the storm to pass. All along he is worried about what the wife will think. This is a symbol of caring and love. As they wait for the storm to pass he goes and buys a can of shrimp as a sign of peace offering to the wife and also because he knew the wife would love it. This goes further to show the much love that he felt. Question Three Calixta also does love Bobinot, when the son and the father get home she is so excited that they are finally home safe from the storm. She is not even concerned about how presentable they look despite been an over-scrupulous housewife. Another sign of love can be seen when she feels Bobinot to see if he is dry. She is not concerned about the apologies that he is making all she cares about is that he is back home safely. Question Four This is not true because Alcee knew that she was married and she could have chosen to represent that which in this case he failed to do. The truth part is only applicable if he had released 3 CHOPLIN THE STORM himself from falling into the temptations. There were so many things that he would have done other than kiss her. Question Five Calixta does not feel guilty because she still loves her family but she also loves having the affair. I do believe that it would be repeated. This is because both of the parties are willing to and Alcee family is not around. Running head: "THE OTHER TWO" AND "SOULS BELATED" read "THE OTHER TWO" AND "SOULS BELATED" read Institution Affiliation Date 1 "THE OTHER TWO" AND "SOULS BELATED" read 2 "THE OTHER TWO" AND "SOULS BELATED" read Question One Both Wharton and Henry have a lot in common when it comes to their writing. For instance, their dialog is done in a similar manner. They both also have a tendency of asking questions that have to do with the human role and also ethics in their work. Question Two The couple is traveling around as they are waiting for the divorce to be finalized. The both of them are finding it hard to accept that their divorce will be final soon. The idea of both drifting from each other was hard for them. Question Three Lydia is of the idea that people ought to marry only for love and adoration and not because either party owes another anything. I do support her reasoning, this is because marriage is a lifelong commitment and should only happen between people who love each other otherwise it may result in a divorce. Question Four The harm that will result from the gossiping is that it will alter their perceptions of each other and that of those they were also involved. It can also lead to either of the parties believing in things that are not true about another person. Question Five "THE OTHER TWO" AND "SOULS BELATED" read 3 The story of Lord Trevanna and Mrs. Cope is the same as that of Lydia because both of them are seeking a divorce. Both stories are important because during this era it was uncommon for women to divorce their husbands. Question Six Lydia is indecisive at the end of the story and cannot seem to make up her mind of on what caused her rebellion, whether it was the surrounding she was in or the divorce. Gannett reacts in the way that he does because he still loves her, but they are now divorced. He is unsure of leaving her in Paris on her own. Surname 1 Name Professor Course Date Dickinson’s Poems Author’s Attitude in the selected poems The uniqueness of Dickinson's poems has made her work considered as one of the significant prolific poetry during her period. Her unique writing style has pulled the influence of realistic and romantic periods. She explored a wide range of themes in the life of poetry, majoring on religion, death and the mind. In these selected writings, Dickinson displays stylistic techniques and figures of speech. Through the writings, various attitudes are presented driving the theme of the poems. In the poem about "some keep the Sabbath Going to Church," the author shows a different attitude in the genre.In the poem "The soul selects her own society" the writer's attitude tries to show how she feels okay that she isolates herself from the rest of the society. The author seems detached to normal society. The author's attitude in the poem "Apparently with no surprise" is a more reflective outlook toward nature and life. The author discovered that nature possessed destructive abilities and that God did not give his accent and endorsement and neither is involved in the destruction. The author writes about the indifferent power nature had which she realized was impossible to reconcile to the spiritual. Gender of the soul in “The soul Selects” poem In "The soul selects," poem, the soul is assigned gender to the soul, this presents a romantic concept in that the spiritual experience is established and the ability to make decisions. It majorly centered on the unmaterialistic mentality. This depicts the ability of non-human entity as possessing the knowledge and the responsibility to make decisions. The soul can have feminine or masculine gender. Female beings have feminine souls while male beings masculine souls. Liberation/ Confinement in "Some keep the Sabbath going to church." In some keeps the Sabbath going to church, Dickinson talks of the idea of the day of Sabbath or the day Christians find as a day of rest. She explains that people headed to church together with their families to listen to sermons delivered and the preaching that would take place. Therefore considering the life of the poet, there is no liberation in this poem, her lifestyle of living a sequestered life is what she depicts in this poem, (Dickinson 236). Virtues attributed to independence Surname 2 The author in "Much madness is divinest sense" communicates irony and defiance as the speaker in the poem denies the ideology of common sense. The author emphasizes that certain virtues as accepting and respecting others choice are essential and any decision should not be viewed as insanity. She sharply criticizes the society's inability to accommodate rebellion. The society has to be accommodative. The virtue of tolerance has to be adopted by society, (Dickson 620) The narrator in the poem "A narrow Fellow in the grass" is given male sex although the author is a female. Dickinson wrote this genre during a period when the time when the female gender was criticized and undermined. In this poem, she employs the male voice (Dickinson 1096). Generally, in art, the feminist view is a symbol of weakness and innocence, desexualized and dematerialized. Sexuality helps the author present a specific symbolism in the poem. The feminists are seen as fearful and innocent and cannot interact with snakes and nature. By employing a male narrator, although she is female Dickinson’s aim was to the male capabilities within in her in the midst of a society that was swallowed in criticism against the female gender. Blonde Assassin in "Apparently with no surprise." The use of the words ‘blonde assassin' connotes personification. The frost is introduced as a blonde assassin with the ability to cut off the head of the innocent flower when the sun is purposed to proceed regardless of what happens and count days and hours in life. The words blonde assassin is a dark connotation with assassin interpreted as a killer, terror, or unexpected. This is tempered by the word blonde which reduces the violence of the scene resulting in a funny feeling towards the assassin. (Dickinson 1668) Surname 3 References Dickinson, Emily, Jean Evans, and Eleanor M. Garvey. "Much madness is divinest sense." Emerging Infectious Diseases14.7 (2008): 1183. Dickinson, Emily. "Some keep the Sabbath going to Church." Final Harvest: Emily Dickinson's Poems (1995). Dickinson, Emily. "The Soul selects her own Society." The Complete Works of Emily Dickenson (1950). 1 Kate Chopin (1850-1904) The Storm (1898) I The leaves were so still that even Bibi thought it was going to rain. Bobinôt, who was accustomed to converse on terms of perfect equality with his little son, called the child‟s attention to certain sombre clouds that were rolling with sinister intention from the west, accompanied by a sullen, threatening roar. They were at Friedheimer‟s store and decided to remain there till the storm had passed. They sat within the door on two empty kegs. Bibi was four years old and looked very wise. “Mama‟ll be „fraid, yes,” he suggested with blinking eyes. “She‟ll shut the house. Maybe she got Sylvie helpin‟ her this evenin‟,” Bobinôt responded reassuringly. “No; she ent got Sylvie. Sylvie was helpin‟ her yistiday,” piped Bibi. Bobinôt arose and going across to the counter purchased a can of shrimps, of which Calixta was very fond. Then he returned to his perch on the keg and sat stolidly holding the can of shrimps while the storm burst. It shook the wooden store and seemed to be ripping great furrows in the distant field. Bibi laid his little hand on his father‟s knee and was not afraid. II Calixta, at home, felt no uneasiness for their safety. She sat at a side window sewing furiously on a sewing machine. She was greatly occupied and did not notice the approaching storm. But she felt very warm and often stopped to mop her face on which the perspiration gathered in beads. She unfastened her white sacque at the throat. It began to grow dark, and suddenly realizing the situation she got up hurriedly and went about closing windows and doors. 2 Out on the small front gallery she had hung Bobinôt‟s Sunday clothes to dry and she hastened out to gather them before the rain fell. As she stepped outside, Alcée Laballière rode in at the gate. She had not seen him very often since her marriage, and never alone. She stood there with Bobinôt‟s coat in her hands, and the big rain drops began to fall. Alcée rode his horse under the shelter of a side projection where the chickens had huddled and there were plows and a harrow piled up in the corner. “May I come and wait on your gallery till the storm is over, Calixta?” he asked. “Come „long in, M‟sieur Alcée.” His voice and her own startled her as if from a trance, and she seized Bobinôt‟s vest. Alcée, mounting to the porch, grabbed the trousers and snatched Bibi‟s braided jacket that was about to be carried away by a sudden gust of wind. He expressed an intention to remain outside, but it was soon apparent that he might as well have been out in the open: the water beat in upon the boards in driving sheets, and he went inside, closing the door after him. It was even necessary to put something beneath the door to keep the water out. “My! what a rain! It‟s good two years since it rain‟ like that,” exclaimed Calixta as she rolled up a piece of bagging and Alcée helped her to thrust it beneath the crack. She was a little fuller of figure than five years before when she married; but she had lost nothing of her vivacity. Her blue eyes still retained their melting quality; and her yellow hair, dishevelled by the wind and rain, kinked more stubbornly than ever about her ears and temples. The rain beat upon the low, shingled roof with a force and clatter that threatened to break an entrance and deluge them there. They were in the dining room—the sitting room—the general utility room. Adjoining was her bed room, with Bibi‟s couch alongside her own. The door stood 3 open, and the room with its white, monumental bed, its closed shutters, looked dim and mysterious. Alcée flung himself into a rocker and Calixta nervously began to gather up from the floor the lengths of a cotton sheet which she had been sewing. “If this keeps up, Dieu sait if the levees goin‟ to stan it!” she exclaimed. “What have you got to do with the levees?” “I got enough to do! An‟ there‟s Bobinôt with Bibi out in that storm—if he only didn‟ left Friedheimer‟s!” “Let us hope, Calixta, that Bobinôt‟s got sense enough to come in out of a cyclone.” She went and stood at the window with a greatly disturbed look on her face. She wiped the frame that was clouded with moisture. It was stiflingly hot. Alcée got up and joined her at the window, looking over her shoulder. The rain was coming down in sheets obscuring the view of far-off cabins and enveloping the distant wood in a gray mist. The playing of the lightning was incessant. A bolt struck a tall chinaberry tree at the edge of the field. It filled all visible space with a blinding glare and the crash seemed to invade the very boards they stood upon. Calixta put her hands to her eyes, and with a cry, staggered backward. Alcée‟s arm encircled her, and for an instant he drew her close and spasmodically to him. “Bonté!” she cried, releasing herself from his encircling arm and retreating from the window, “the house‟ll go next! If I only knew w‟ere Bibi was!” She would not compose herself; she would not be seated. Alcée clasped her shoulders and looked into her face. The contact of her warm, palpitating body when he had unthinkingly drawn her into his arms, had aroused all the old-time infatuation and desire for her flesh. 4 “Calixta,” he said, “don‟t be frightened. Nothing can happen. The house is too low to be struck, with so many tall trees standing about. There! aren‟t you going to be quiet? say, aren‟t you?” He pushed her hair back from her face that was warm and steaming. Her lips were as red and moist as pomegranate seeds. Her white neck and a glimpse of her full, firm bosom disturbed him powerfully. As she glanced up at him the fear in her liquid blue eyes had given place to a drowsy gleam that unconsciously betrayed a sensuous desire. He looked down into her eyes and there was nothing for him to do but to gather her lips in a kiss. It reminded him of Assumption. “Do you remember—in Assumption, Calixta?” he asked in a low voice broken by passion. Oh! she remembered; for in Assumption he had kissed her and kissed her; until his senses would well nigh fail, and to save her he would resort to a desperate flight. If she was not an immaculate dove in those days, she was still inviolate; a passionate creature whose very defenselessness had made her defense, against which his honor forbade him to prevail. Now— well, now—her lips seemed in a manner free to be tasted, as well as her round, white throat and her whiter breasts. They did not heed the crashing torrents, and the roar of the elements made her laugh as she lay in his arms. She was a revelation in that dim, mysterious chamber; as white as the couch she lay upon. Her firm, elastic flesh that was knowing for the first time its birthright, was like a creamy lily that the sun invites to contribute its breath and perfume to the undying life of the world. The generous abundance of her passion, without guile or trickery, was like a white flame which penetrated and found response in depths of his own sensuous nature that had never yet been reached. 5 When he touched her breasts they gave themselves up in quivering ecstasy, inviting his lips. Her mouth was a fountain of delight. And when he possessed her, they seemed to swoon together at the very borderland of life‟s mystery. He stayed cushioned upon her, breathless, dazed, enervated, with his heart beating like a hammer upon her. With one hand she clasped his head, her lips lightly touching his forehead. The other hand stroked with a soothing rhythm his muscular shoulders. The growl of the thunder was distant and passing away. The rain beat softly upon the shingles, inviting them to drowsiness and sleep. But they dared not yield. The rain was over; and the sun was turning the glistening green world into a palace of gems. Calixta, on the gallery, watched Alcée ride away. He turned and smiled at her with a beaming face; and she lifted her pretty chin in the air and laughed aloud. III Bobinôt and Bibi, trudging home, stopped without at the cistern to make themselves presentable. “My! Bibi, w‟at will yo‟ mama say! You ought to be ashame‟. You oughta‟ put on those good pants. Look at „em! An‟ that mud on yo‟ collar! How you got that mud on yo‟ collar, Bibi? I never saw such a boy!” Bibi was the picture of pathetic resignation. Bobinôt was the embodiment of serious solicitude as he strove to remove from his own person and his son‟s the signs of their tramp over heavy roads and through wet fields. He scraped the mud off Bibi‟s bare legs and feet with a stick and carefully removed all traces from his heavy brogans. Then, prepared for the worst—the meeting with an over-scrupulous housewife, they entered cautiously at the back door. 6 Calixta was preparing supper. She had set the table and was dripping coffee at the hearth. She sprang up as they came in. “Oh, Bobinôt! You back! My! but I was uneasy. W‟ere you been during the rain? An‟ Bibi? he ain‟t wet? he ain‟t hurt?” She had clasped Bibi and was kissing him effusively. Bobinôt‟s explanations and apologies which he had been composing all along the way, died on his lips as Calixta felt him to see if he were dry, and seemed to express nothing but satisfaction at their safe return. “I brought you some shrimps, Calixta,” offered Bobinôt, hauling the can from his ample side pocket and laying it on the table. “Shrimps! Oh, Bobinôt! you too good fo‟ anything!” and she gave him a smacking kiss on the cheek that resounded, “J’vous réponds, we‟ll have a feas‟ to-night! umph-umph!” Bobinôt and Bibi began to relax and enjoy themselves, and when the three seated themselves at table they laughed much and so loud that anyone might have heard them as far away as Laballière‟s. IV Alcée Laballière wrote to his wife, Clarisse, that night. It was a loving letter, full of tender solicitude. He told her not to hurry back, but if she and the babies liked it at Biloxi, to stay a month longer. He was getting on nicely; and though he missed them, he was willing to bear the separation a while longer—realizing that their health and pleasure were the first things to be considered. 7 V As for Clarisse, she was charmed upon receiving her husband‟s letter. She and the babies were doing well. The society was agreeable; many of her old friends and acquaintances were at the bay. And the first free breath since her marriage seemed to restore the pleasant liberty of her maiden days. Devoted as she was to her husband, their intimate conjugal life was something which she was more than willing to forego for a while. So the storm passed and everyone was happy. The Soul selects her own Society (409) Emily Dickinson, 1830 - 1886 The Soul selects her own Society — Then — shuts the Door — To her divine Majority — Present no more — Unmoved — she notes the Chariots — pausing — At her low Gate — Unmoved — an Emperor be kneeling Upon her Mat — I’ve known her — from an ample nation — Choose One — Then — close the Valves of her attention — Like Stone — c. 1862 Some keep the Sabbath going to Church – (236) BY EMI LY DIC KI NSON Some keep the Sabbath going to Church – I keep it, staying at Home – With a Bobolink for a Chorister – And an Orchard, for a Dome – Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice – I, j ...
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