poetry

1. In terms of the development of the characters, do the stories “Poker Flat” and “Revolt” move overall, like Frost’s “Tuft of Flowers,” from a sense of isolation to one of community? Or do both—or either—move in the opposite direction? Focus more on the stories; less so on the poem.

2. In the early (1914-16) editions of Frost’s second book, North of Boston, Mary’s speech in “Hired Man,” lines 144-45 read as follows:

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…As anyone. He won’t be made ashamed
To please his brother, worthless though he is.

Why do you suppose Frost reversed the order by the later edition (the one you’ve read)? What effect, if any, does this change make on the tone of Mary’s words here?

3. Which one scene or moment in “Neighbour Rosicky” most closely approximates, visually, Dickinson’s Because I could not stop for Death? Are the scenes thematically similar, or contrasting?

4. Compare Cather’s “minister” scene in “Rosicky” (p. 55) with Freeman’s in “Revolt” (p. 30):

a) What personal traits or characteristics do the ministers share?
b) Anton’s and Sarah’s “rebellions” relate to which famous struggle in American history?

5. In terms of their relationship to larger developments in American culture, how do the “frontier brides” in Yellow Sky and in “Neighbour Rosicky” function in almost opposite roles from one another? (Make sure you select the right “bride” from each story.)

6. In “Rosicky,” how do the thistles (pp. 57-58) metaphorically represent Anton’s main problem? Be sure to consider the exact location of the thistle-plagued alfalfa field.

7. Of three wives you’ve read about recently—Mary in “Hired Man,” “The River-Merchant’s Wife,” and Alida Slade from “Roman Fever”—which one most derives her identity through her husband? Which the least? Discuss all three works, ranking the wives in order.

8. The name Delphin is closely related to “Delphic,” which is defined as:
a) pertaining to Apollo, Roman god of light and manly beauty (see Oracle at Delphi); and
b) ambiguous, obscure.

Do either of these allusions—or both?—inform our perception of Delphin Slade?

9. Both “Babylon Revisited” and “Roman Fever” are, to a large extent, about characters unable to escape their pasts. Which character, Charlie Wales or Alida Slade, is more responsible, finally, for the manner in which their past catches up to them?

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