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by Dorothy Parker

Analysis: What's Up With the Title?

Here's the nifty thing about this title: "resume" is a word that can mean "begin again," "picking up where you left off," or "continuing." As a title for this poem (which is basically a list of all the ways that a person can end his/her life), "Resume" could be a summary of the piece itself: our speaker stops every now and then to think about the ways her life could end, and then she picks up the pieces and starts (or resumes) the business of living again.

Then again, toss a few accents on to the title, and you've got the word "résumé" – you know, that thing we're supposed to create in order to apply for jobs or scholarships or whatever we might be doing this summer. When you start to think about it, this poem could be a perverse sort of résumé – it's a list of all the "accomplishments" of the speaker.

Once again, there's a whopping dose of irony involved. For one thing, most folks wouldn't think of suicide as an accomplishment at all. For another, most people don't list failed tasks on their résumés. Any way we look at it, then, this is not the sort of résumé we'd ever hand to a future employer, nor is it the sort of résumé we ever hope to have. (Though, perhaps the very résumé that Parker had to struggle with herself.)

It's the play between these two possibilities – "resume" and "résumé" – that helps this poem maintain a balance between serious contemplation and dark comedy.

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