Study Guide

Resume Themes

  • Death (Suicide)

    When every single line in a poem weighs the potential downsides of killing oneself in a particular way, chances are that the poem is doing a little bit of reflecting on the up-sides and the down-sides of staying alive as well.  We're guessing that this debate is going on in the first place because the speaker of "Resume" isn't too happy – she even shows signs of clinical depression. In the end, she opts for living, but not for the reasons you might assume. She simply seems to conclude that living is a little bit less of a hassle than going to all the trouble of killing herself. We know, it's a pretty bleak assessment of life.

    Questions About Death (Suicide)

    1. Do you think the speaker actually wants to die?
    2. How does addressing this poem to a "you" influence the way that you read it?
    3. Is the speaker expressing universally-held opinions about suicide? Why or why not?
    4. Do you believe our speaker thinks as much about living as she does about dying? How can you tell?

    Chew on This

    Death becomes an everyday activity in this poem, oddly like shopping or picking out an item from a menu.

    By trivializing death, our speaker inadvertently valorizes (read: paints it in a good light) life.

  • Choices

    When you think about it, "Resume" is like a shopping catalogue of ways our speaker could end her life. It's got options, short analyses, and even a suggestion about the best way to proceed.  With this, Parker stages a fairly common (if morbid) version of a person's thought processes. When we're trying to decide whether or not to do something, we like to take time to think out all of our options. Sure, overall, this poem isn't even close to picking out flavors at Baskin Robbins. But in many other ways, the process of decision-making is identical.

    Questions About Choices

    1. Does the speaker seem to contemplate one form of suicide more seriously than the others?
    2. Do you think the speaker's making a conscious choice to live?
    3. Does it seem like the speaker has actually thought through each of the options she mentions? How would you justify your answer?

    Chew on This

    The speaker is determined to choose the easiest option, and she concludes that living is easier than dying.

    The end of the poem offers no resolution. Our speaker hasn't decided to live – she's just temporarily run out of options for killing herself.

  • Passivity

    Who would've guessed that the only thing harder than waking up day after miserable day would be…finding an easy way to end one's own life? When we said "Resume" was a dark comedy, we meant it: the only thing that keeps our speaker alive is a contemplation of the tediousness of actually killing herself. That, folks, is irony. And we have to admit, passivity never sounded so good.

    Questions About Passivity

    1. Would you describe the speaker as lazy? Why or why not?
    2. How would you characterize the speaker's analysis of each form of suicide?

    Chew on This

    Ironically, this poem demonstrates that sometimes our inability to act is our best quality.

    "Resume" manages to make living seem like less of a virtue than dying, if only because dying takes a fair bit of effort.