Study Guide

Hanging Fire Stanza 3

By Audre Lorde

Stanza 3

Lines 24-27

Nobody even stops to think
about my side of it
I should have been on Math Team
my marks were better than his 

  • In these lines, our speaker references some kind of argument or problematic scenario—the "it" of line 25—but we don't know the details. The speaker isn't wasting time to explain everything to us; this makes us feel even more like she's talking to herself.
  • But we do have a small sense of what's going on: she believes that she should have been on the "Math Team" instead of some guy who had worse grades than her. We may not know the details of what went down, but it sure does sound like our speaker was discriminated against. 
  • Not cool, speaker's junior high school, not cool. We at Shmoop are firm believers in equal opportunity math teams. It sounds like our speaker has some a legitimate beef.

Lines 28-33

why do I have to be
the one
wearing braces
I have nothing to wear tomorrow
will I live long enough
to grow up 

  • Ah, from legitimate beef back to adolescent whining: our speaker asks why she has been blighted with the curse of braces. (Speaker, we feel you, we really do, but we all had braces. Come on.)
  • And then, she whines a bit more: she has nothing to wear tomorrow. This is the oldest complaint in the book—no pity party for you, dear speaker.
  • But then she shifts suddenly into a plaintive question that really gets us in the gut: "will I live long enough / to grow up"? 
  • What is she afraid of? Is there something real and terrifying and dangerous in her life that's threatening? Is she sick? Does she live in a dangerous neighborhood? Or is she just following out a dark, goth-girl fantasy?
  • The poem doesn't give us an answer to these questions. We don't know if these fears about death are legit and related to the outside world, or if they're purely in her head.
  • But, either way, we feel pretty confident in saying that our speaker could use some good parental advice, or at least a good parental hug. It sounds like she feels alone in the world, like she doesn't have anyone to talk through the tough stuff with.

Lines 34-35

and momma's in the bedroom
with the door closed. 

  • The final lines of the poem break our Shmoopy little hearts, even though we've heard them before. 
  • In fact, they break our hearts precisely because we've heard them before. That's pretty much the definition of refrain. 
  • Our speaker reiterates her separation from her mom. She's in the bedroom, with the door closed. She's not talking to our speaker about her problems, or consoling her, or even just taking her out for some ice cream.
  • Instead, she's distant. She's just in the bedroom, but that closed door makes the speaker feel like her mom's a million miles away. 
  • Our speaker's got some problems, but her mom isn't fixing them anytime soon. The poem ends on a really sad note. The poem reinforces the distance between mother and child, and our speaker really needs her mom in this moment. But her "momma's in the bedroom / with the door closed." 
  • Our speaker is anxious and sad. And now we're sad too. Thanks, Audre Lorde, now you're making us sniffle.

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