Study Guide

Song of the Open Road Community

By Walt Whitman


You know who has to use the road to get around? That's right—everyone. If you think about it, commuters on a road are really a kind of community unto themselves. We like to call this a "commuter-ty," but we're pretty sure we just made that word up. At any rate, all these folks—rich, poor, man, woman, black, white, or green—suit the speaker of "Song of the Open Road" just fine, thank you very much. Being a people person, he sees the road as a great way to get out there and meet folks, to exchange stories, and, well, to just be part of a community. So the next time you're stuck in a traffic jam, take his lead. Look around, wave, and smile happily at everyone. We're totally sure they'll feel the same sense of community that our speaker feels in this poem.

Questions About Community

  1. In this poem, what does it take to be a part of the traveling community?
  2. Are there any people left out of the speaker's traveling community? What's his attitude toward them?
  3. Which is more important to the speaker: independence or community? How can you tell?
  4. To what extent is the reader a part of the traveling community? How can you tell?

Chew on This

Our speaker is more of a dropout than his love for others would lead you to believe. Mainly, he's into doing his own thing.

This poem shows us that the only true way to be equal is to be brought together by a common need, like travel.

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