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by Maya Angelou

Alone Theme of Suffering

The speaker of "Alone" ominously declares that "the race of man is suffering/ and I can hear the moan." Instead of talking about how suffering is something that all humans experience at some point in their lives, our speaker warns people about a change she observes in the world. It's as though humans are suffering more and more. She's noticing a shift in how humans live, and she's worried.

Questions About Suffering

  1. What do you think causes the speaker the most suffering in this poem?
  2. Do you think that all people suffer equally in this poem? The speaker? The millionaire? The millionaire's wife?
  3. Why is being alone a bad thing? How does this poem describe it?
  4. Is the loneliness in the world getting better or worse? What section of the poem helps you to come to this conclusion?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Although the speaker suggests that being alone is the cause of suffering in this poem, the true suffering seems to come from not knowing how to nourish the soul.

This poem offers a cure for suffering: finding a community that can nourish the soul.

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