by Elizabeth Bishop
Filling Station Theme of Family
Lo and behold, a family lives under that layer of grease. And things only get greasier with each passing day, as these folks continue to pour it into ailing automobiles on a daily basis. The "Filling Station," we find out pretty early on, is family-run, by the father and his sons. The women in the family (if there are any) seem to be steering clear of the grease trap. Signs of family and home trickle their way down the poem: there's a porch, some furniture, a plant, and even a pet dog. If this place didn't look like the site of a huge oil spill, it might look like a normal house and home. Almost.
Questions About Family
- When you find out the filling station is family-run, does it change your opinion of the place? Why or why not?
- Do you think the absence of any women in the family picture is intentional? Suspicious? Are we supposed to think she's died or something?
- Besides the mention of the father and sons, what are some other indicators of family in this poem?
- Given the information in the poem, would you guess this is a happy family, or an unhappy one? Why or why not?
Chew on This
The speaker is romanticizing the relationship with the young men and the owner of the station; they're actually not related at all. It was the speaker's assumption that the filling station was family run, just so she can make it seem nicer than it is.
The whole point of this poem is to show that even though this place is run down, a family lives there, so there's actually a lot of love and happiness.