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by Marianne Moore

Silence Theme of Isolation

You know how some people are really nice, but you just know that you'll never stay up all night with them, eating pizza and gossip about ex-boyfriends/girlfriends? Between the speaker, her father, and the superior people he describes, this poem feels like a Not Going to Be Your New Best Friend Club. All these people, in their own ways, keep a distance between themselves and others.

Questions About Isolation

  1. Why do you think superior people never make long visits? Are they trying to be polite to their hosts, are they too important and have better things to do, or is there another reason the poem gives us?
  2. If superior people enjoy being alone and keeping silent, why do they bother making visits at all?
  3. What is the relationship between silence and solitude in this poem? Are they connected, or are they two separate things?
  4. What does being "self-reliant" mean in this poem? How is the cat self-reliant?

Chew on This

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

In this poem, we really get two speakers: the person saying the poem and the father, who provides the quote. Even though the father praises people who enjoy solitude, the poem itself is a rejection of solitude.

The father's use of the cat to illustrate self-reliance is flawed, because the cat, as much as he may enjoy his privacy, relies on the mouse to be his prey.

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