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by Rita Dove

Rosa Questions

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

  1. If this is a poem about Rosa Parks, why isn't there more attention paid to the actual events she's famous for? Dove doesn't mention the bus even once, or even her refusal to give up her seat. Why do you think Dove leaves these things out? 
  2. What's with the first-name basis? Dove titles the poem "Rosa" rather than "Rosa Parks." What is the effect on your reading of the poem with only the first name as the title? 
  3. Based on what you know about Rosa Parks and her historical action in 1955, how does Rita Dove's description of Parks (think "trim," "sensible," "clean") measure up? Does this way of describing her make sense, or would you expect something different? If so, what? What parts of the poem support your answer? 
  4. What effect do the short lines and short stanzas have on your reading of the poem? 
  5. Why do you think Dove is vague in certain instances in this poem (we don't really know where it takes place, or exactly what's going on, who the "they" is in the final stanza, etc.)? How does not knowing affect your reading of the poem?

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