Study Guide

Dangerous Astronomy Jealousy

By Sherman Alexie

Jealousy

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

The speaker in this poem admits his own competitiveness with his wife. It's as if he's taken a moment outside of the action of the poem to acknowledge, yes, even parents sometimes compete with their spouse for the title of "Most Loving Parent of the Year" award. But this is only part of his reaction to the action of the poem. We get taken through the speaker's experience as if we have backstage passes to his psyche, and not only does he get jealous of his wife, but also his son, and later, starts to turn in on himself to find out what's up with feeling so competitive.

Dull and jealous, I was the smallest part
Of the whole. […] (10-11)

Here, we have the speaker admitting that he feels, um, small. Like, itty bitty. As if he is the most insignificant part of the family. So small in fact, he thinks he'll go unnoticed by his own wife and son.

But I felt less important than the farthest star

As my wife fed my son in the hungry dark. (12-13)

These two lines are divided by a stanza break. The speaker does a good job juxtaposing the word "star" with "dark." Just like there's some conflict between the rhyming words of the poem, there's a bit of conflict between the speaker and the people he loves. He's bound to his wife and son because he loves them, but paradoxically feels completely isolated from them. How weird is that?

A selfish father, I wanted to pull apart
My comfortable wife and son. […] (16-17)

One of the redeeming qualities of this speaker, even though he's a bit jealous, is his willingness to be honest about his feelings. At least he's up front, right? Instead of wallowing in his jealousy, these lines are a startling confession of how (awful) he felt watching his wife and son together in the room. It makes him sound even more human, which is the part we can relate to.

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