Study Guide

Dangerous Astronomy Competition

By Sherman Alexie

Competition

[…] my comfort was not enough. (5)

Here, the speaker's desire to praise the stars is at odds with his son's need for comfort. The speaker, being the good father that he is, decides to try and comfort his son, but he can't do it. Speaker: 0. Son's need for comfort: 1.

[…] It's hard
For fathers to compete with mothers' love. (7-8)

After he fails to comfort his son, his wife comes in and saves the day. And at this point, he just comes out and says it's difficult to compete with a mother. He's jealous. And competitive. He wants to be able to provide for his son in a way that he's unable to accomplish. Speaker: 0. Mother's love: 1.

Was my comfort more important than the stars? (15)

Here, the speaker seems to be competing with the stars. What he started out wanting to praise is now a source of conflict for him. Basically, he's asking if he's better than what he wanted to praise. And in this case, for the speaker, it sounds like the third strike. Not only is he not more important than this son, or his wife, but also he's not more important than the stars either. Yet again, Speaker: 0. Stars: 1.

[…] Forgive me, Rough
God, because I walked outside to praise the stars,
And thought I was more important than the stars. (17-19)

The last lines of this poem are the resolution of the speaker's competitions. Once he admits that he was trying to compete with his loved ones, he realizes the inherent contradiction in feeling superior to what he loves. Game over.

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