Study Guide

Evangeline Memory and the Past

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Memory and the Past

We'd forgive you if, at some point in reading "Evangeline," you put down the poem and shouted "Stop living in the past!" (Really, we're forgiving like that.) Still, that's not a totally fair accusation to lob at Evangeline and her fellow Acadians. In a lot of ways, the past is all they have. Sure, they're able to rebuild their lives in Louisiana (some of them anyway), but that doesn't mean that they're ready to let go of everything they once knew.

And as far as Evangeline's concerned, her memory of her past love is really the only thing that keeps her going. In a paradoxical way, it's her connection to the past that allows her to move forward toward her future.

Questions About Memory and the Past

  1. Do you trust the speaker's memory of Acadia? Why or why not?
  2. Why is Evangeline so stuck in the past? Why can't she move on with her life?
  3. How do the Acadians remember their homeland?
  4. It is easier to live in the past than in the present? How would the speaker answer that question?

Chew on This

Living in the past holds Evangeline back from creating a new life for herself.

Evangeline's memories of the past actually give her strength to continue on.