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Themes

The speaker of "Filling Station," believe it or not, admires this place. The admiration unfolds slowly, and even secretly, as if the speaker doesn't really want to own up to it. Bishop doesn't pull any punches in highlighting what is wrong with the place, and though it doesn't seem the speaker could love a place like this, it seems she clearly admires the family for making a home from it, for caring for the plant and the lazy dog. She might not love this joint, but she thinks it's pretty cool that they do.

Questions About Admiration

  1. If we assume the speaker admires this place, why do you think she insults it so much? 
  2. Do you think the speaker's admiration for the filling station only comes toward the end of the poem, or do you think it's been with her all along? How can you tell?
  3. What do you think there is to admire about this place and these people? Anything?

Chew on This

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

The speaker admires the people in the filling station because they are capable of caring for a place that she could never appreciate (because it's too dirty and run-down).

The speaker doesn't admire the family at all; in fact, she thinks she's superior to them.

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