Study Guide

As Kingfishers Catch Fire Identity

By Gerard Manley Hopkins

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Quickly, Shmoopers, answer this question: who are you? No, really—deep down, at your very core, just who exactly do you think you are? What is your innermost essence? You have thirty seconds to respond. Just kidding—some folks take a whole lifetime to answer these questions, and they still don't come to a satisfying answer. That's too bad, especially in the eyes of the speaker of "As Kingfishers Catch Fire." His primary advice on how to earn and reflect God's favor is to match your actions up to your inner sense of self. To do that, of course, you have to know exactly what it is you're all about. You have to know yourself before you can truly know God, it seems. So you better start reflecting…

Questions About Identity

  1. What's the best way to discover your inner self, according to the poem?
  2. Why do we have to discover our selves before we can know God? How might the speaker answer this question?
  3. What challenges or obstacles might prevent someone from acting in accordance with their inner selves?
  4. How might we act in ways that don't match our inner selves?

Chew on This

It sounds easy enough, but this poem has just sent us all on a lifelong quest to discover our identity.

Nah—it actually is that simple. We all have a true sense of self directing our actions. It's called our conscience. We just have to listen to it.

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