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Dangerous Astronomy

Dangerous Astronomy

by Sherman Alexie

Jealousy Theme

"Dangerous Astronomy" shows us the softer side of jealousy (if there is one). Here, a father gets jealous of his infant son. But what's interesting is how the poem turns jealousy upside down. It's an emotion that causes the speaker to ask deeper questions about himself and his motivations as a parent. So instead of wallowing in jealousy, this poem uses it as an engine to move the speaker through his confusion. He moves from being alarmed at his own jealousy to accepting his faults and asking for forgiveness.

Questions About Jealousy

  1. What imagery does this poem use to reinforce the speaker's feelings of jealousy and emotional distance? How does he ultimately deal with those feelings? 
  2. What effect does admitting that he is jealous have on your ability to relate to the speaker? Does it make you sympathize with his trouble? Does it make you dislike him? Is it surprising? Why do you think he admits to us that he feels such an unflattering emotion toward his family? 
  3. Jealousy is usually rooted in some sort of insecurity or fear. What do you think the speaker is afraid of in this poem, and how does he use figurative language in this poem to communicate that fear? 
  4. What does the speaker's jealousy ultimately reveal about his feelings toward his family? Is the poem a memory of a good or bad experience? Why? 

Chew on This

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

The speaker's jealousy is really just a mask for his deep-seated insecurity as a dad. He is afraid he can't hack it, so he takes it out on his family. Not cool, dude. So not cool.

Jealousy's a good thing here, because it allows the dad to really understand where he fits in with his family, and what needs to change.

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