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by Kay Ryan

Turtle Questions

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

  1. Why do you think Kay Ryan chose a turtle to express the ideas in this poem? Do you think the main themes could have been conveyed equally well by focusing on a different animal? If so, what animal would you suggest, and why? If not, why not?
  2. How would you describe the personality of the speaker in "Turtle"? Would you be interested in being friends with this person? Why or why not?
  3. Would you characterize "Turtle" as a funny poem? If so, which parts did you find funny? Do you think the poet's use of humor reinforces the main ideas of the poem? Why or why not?
  4. Imagine that you are interviewing the turtle in Kay Ryan's poem. You ask the turtle, "What does patience mean to you?" How would the turtle answer?
  5. One commentator has described "Turtle" as a "deeply pessimistic poem." Do you agree or disagree with that idea? Why do you think so?

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