* Site-Outage Notice: Our engineering elves will be tweaking the Shmoop site from Monday, December 22 10:00 PM PST to Tuesday, December 23 5:00 AM PST. The site will be unavailable during this time.
© 2014 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
Dangerous Astronomy

Dangerous Astronomy

by Sherman Alexie

Competition Theme

Competition thrives through all of "Dangerous Astronomy". It's as if there are several forces competing all at once through the speaker's perspective. These forces—his desire to praise the stars, his son's comfort, his wife's love—all collide in the bedroom, and luckily for us, the speaker walks us through the gritty details of what it felt like not to come out on top.

Questions About Competition

  1. How does competition create conflict in the poem? 
  2. Normally people compete for something they want. What does the speaker of "Dangerous Astronomy" want? 
  3. Is it normal to feel competitive with family members? How does this poem portray family competition as something that shows up at unexpected moments?
  4. Who is the speaker competing with in this poem?

Chew on This

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

The speaker of "Dangerous Astronomy" finds himself competing with his baby son, his wife, and ultimately God, until the end of the poem, when he realizes his competitive nature is the problem in the first place. It gets in the way of his ability to love.

"Dangerous Astronomy" details a power struggle within the speaker's family, and it's through this struggle that the speaker awakens to a deeper understanding of how to be a good father and husband.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...

Noodle's College Search