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Diving into the Wreck

Diving into the Wreck

by Adrienne Rich

Transformation Theme

Check out all the ways that things change in "Diving into the Wreck." First we watch the speaker put on fins, change into a diver. Then we enter the water, a whole new world, with new rules. Petty soon, we don't even know who our speaker is. Is our speaker a man or a woman? Is it even human? How do we deal with changes in our lives? When things change, when our environment shifts, do we become different people? These are tough questions, but important ones too, and Rich is partly using this poem to sort them out.

Questions About Transformation

  1. Do you think the speaker of this poem really changes during the dive? If so, what does she become?
  2. The speaker seems to suggest that putting on a diving suit changes the way she feels. Do you buy that idea? When you put on a tuxedo or a fancy dress, do you feel like a different person in any way?
  3. What might the speaker mean by the line "you breathe differently down here" (line 51). Does it suggest a bigger idea?
  4. Have you ever been on an adventure that changed your idea of yourself? Does this poem remind you of that at all?

Chew on This

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

By the end of this poem, the speaker is not just a person who went scuba diving. In fact, he or she has become many people, a man, a woman, a sea creature, a representative of all people who have ever experienced disaster.

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