Study Guide

Central Heating Dissatisfaction

By Pierre Reverdy

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Our speaker is passionately in love, but he struggles to have a positive view of this love and the world he lives in. Let's face it: dude has issues. He doubts the reality of the world, and the rightness of his love. Though he sees beauty all around him, he just can't quite force himself to believe that all of these beautiful things are, you know, real. Published in the middle of World War I, "Central Heating" expresses feelings typical of Europeans in its age—in the face of tragedy, can feelings like love still exist? What is life if it can be ended so quickly and massively in combat? While the poem doesn't mention anything specifically about the war, we can read here about the type of dissatisfaction that might result from a world being shaken by widespread violence and death.

Questions About Dissatisfaction

  1. What do you think the source of the speaker's dissatisfaction is? Why?
  2. How does the speaker tie in the ideas of central heating with his dissatisfaction with life? 
  3. How does the speaker's dissatisfaction affect his love, and vice versa? 
  4. How do the details in the poem add to the mood of dissatisfaction? What parts of the poem support your ideas?

Chew on This

Face it: the speaker is dissatisfied because there is something amiss in his love life.

Love's not the problem, gang. The speaker's doubts about the reality of the world are what leave him unable to find satisfaction.

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