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Filling Station

Filling Station


by Elizabeth Bishop

Filling Station Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. What's the point of being so deliberately insulting about the filling station at the beginning of the poem? You know, the "it's so gross and dirty" tone that our speaker starts off with? Does that set anything up later in the poem? Or is it just straight up rude?
  2. Why devote an entire poem to a filling station? Since when is a gas station poem material?
  3. Okay, serious question here: what is this poem about? Family? Fuel? God?
  4. What do you think the speaker's relationship to the filling station and the people who live there is? What evidence in the poem supports your opinion? 
  5. In a poem about something so specific (the filling station), why end on such a vague, and seemingly unrelated note? In your opinion, what does the last line mean in relationship with the rest of the poem? 
  6. The poem is very carefully detailed. Bishop goes to great lengths to describe how nasty the place is, and she also details the more charming touches of the place.
  7. What effect does all of this detail have on your overall impression of the filling station? 
  8. What's the speaker's final impression of the filling station and how has it changed over the course of the poem? How can you tell?

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