Auguries of Greater Light
- How do the following works deal with the theme of death? What are the resemblances and differences in their underlying perspectives?
- How do the following works deal with the theme of oppression, i.e. malevolent control that is threatened, real, or imagined? What is the reaction to it?
Questions about particular works:
In the Holocaust, the Nazis systematically exterminated any groups they didn’t like — Jews, Gypsies, gays, dissidents, trade-unionists, and others — simply for being who they were.
In Mel Waldman’s “A Jew in the House of Terror,” are the Jews and Muslims illegally incarcerated and mistreated for being Jews or Muslims? Or have they been arrested for another reason?
In John Stocks’ “Dog Days”:
- At what time of year does the scene in the poem take place?
- The second line of the last stanza — “The antithesis of summer ” — practically tells the reader how the poem is contructed. What other antitheses can be found in the first, third, fourth, and last stanzas?
- What are the sound effects in the second stanza?
- Which two classical themes are exemplified in the poem:
- Why is the fox transformed by the metaphor of Death referred to as “indiscrete” rather than “indiscreet”? What is the existential irony in the play on words?
- Two lines, in particular, may seem mysterious on first reading: “We dampened the walls for hours” and “The neighbors were pulling up drains.” What mental images might they evoke?
In Tim Simmons’ “The Pact,” Marty makes an eloquent — for him — argument in favor of living. Why does he shoot himself? Marty and his friends have all suffered a “laundry list” of horrors. Does misfortune in and of itself justify nihilism?
In Fiona Davis’s “The Dream Machine”:
- Is the subject’s father really a monster or a symbol of a subconscious fear of abandonment? Does it matter? How does the subject confront the fear?
- What does Dr. Strauss’ “dream machine” imply about the nature of the creative imagination? What is the machine? In reality might it be simply paper and pencil?
- What does the subject’s need for a period of solitude and reflection imply about the role of the subconscious mind in the process of imagination? About the role of the conscious mind in differentiating between memory or illusion and reality?
In Alan G. Pittman’s “Impish Behaviour,” are the imps limited to children? What might Mr Henderson’s imp be telling him to do?
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