Study Guide

Central Heating Life, Consciousness, and Existence

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Life, Consciousness, and Existence

The speaker of "Central Heating" has a lot of doubts about just what he's doing in this world, and just what the heck this whole life thing is, anyway. He explores his doubts through imagery and metaphors, but (spoiler alert) never really resolves them. He seems to have serious questions about the reality of the world: What is artificial? What is genuine? What is the correct way to use a semicolon? Okay, okay—he's not so interested in that last question. Instead, he's into big picture issues. He doubts what makes him tick, and whether or not his heart is leading him in the right direction.

Questions About Life, Consciousness, and Existence

  1. What role do you think love has in the speaker's views on life, consciousness, and existence? What parts of the poem give you your ideas? 
  2. What do you think is the speaker's definition of "artificial?" Why? 
  3. What do you think the speaker means by having no "faith," as he expresses in line 18?
  4. What do you think the "electromagnet" in line 9 is a metaphor for? Why?

Chew on This

The speaker's love is so passionate that it ultimately restores his belief in the reality of the world. Aww.

Irony alert, gang. The intensity of the speaker's love is the reason why he is doubting his life, consciousness, and existence.

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