Study Guide

good times Setting

By Lucille Clifton

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You're sitting at the counter, you parents are cooking away, and your little brother or sister's right there next to you, laughing and joking about what happened at school that day. Even grandma and grandpa are here for the fun—they're dancing around on the linoleum to the tune of some golden oldie.

You've heard it all before. Some of the best family moments happen in the kitchen, whether on a holiday or a typical Tuesday, and that's definitely the case in Clifton's poem. Whether folks are cooking, reminiscing, dancing, what have you, the kitchen is the place to be for those happier times and lighter moments with the family. Once that rent is paid and the insurance man is gone, the speaker lets us know that the only place that matters now is the spot where mom is baking that bread. Smells delish.

In "good times," the kitchen becomes a place that's reminiscent of life's simpler pleasures. There's no need for deep philosophical debates when uncle brud is hitting for a dollar straight and everyone's "drunk and dancing in the kitchen." There's also no need for any abstract settings and metaphors. Instead, the speaker keeps us warm and cozy with the family in the kitchen that's having a good time, plain and simple. It's a scene we've all lived, at one point or another.

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