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In the Waiting Room

In the Waiting Room

by Elizabeth Bishop

In the Waiting Room Questions

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

  1. Is the "Elizabeth" of the poem Elizabeth Bishop? Can we read the poem as true autobiography?
  2. Why is Elizabeth so horrified by the people she sees in National Geographic? Is she afraid of other cultures? Of people who are different from her? Can you relate to her experience?
  3. The poem is spoken in the past tense. Is it in the voice of the young Elizabeth? Or in the voice of an older Elizabeth, looking back at this moment in her life? How can you tell?
  4. Can you be both an "I" and a "we" at the same time? Do you need to be isolated from others to preserve your individuality?
  5. Is this a poem about war, even though the war is only mentioned once at the very end of the poem? If so, what does the poem have to say about war?

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