From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
We have changed our privacy policy. In addition, we use cookies on our website for various purposes. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. You can learn about our practices by reading our privacy policy.
© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
Sestina

Sestina

  

by Elizabeth Bishop

Sestina Theme of The Home

Everything seems just fine on the surface in "Sestina." The grandmother and grandchild are in the kitchen making tea and having an afternoon snack together. Cozy and cute, right? But something is totally off here. The house is cold, and there seems to be all sorts of forces keeping this from being a happy home. Where is the rest of the family? Why is the grandmother so sad? Why is she hiding it? Despite the stove and the tea, everything has a sad chill to it, and we can't help but wonder if this home isn't broken.

Questions About The Home

  1. Where is everybody? Do you get the feeling that the grandmother and the grandchild are the only two living in that house? What do you think happened, if this is the case?
  2. Do you think the grandmother's tears have something to do with their domestic situation, or do you think the two have nothing to do with one another? What does the poem tell you?
  3. What about the house makes it seem like a sad home to you? What evidence can you find in the poem?
  4. How does the description of what's going on outside the house—the rain beating down on the roof for example—affect your idea of the home?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

It actually is a happy home, it's just a rainy and chilly day. Stop making something out of nothing.

The child has been abandoned by the rest of her family and the grandmother is sad and worried about their future. That's why they're both so down in the dumps.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...

Advertisement