Study Guide

Song of the Open Road Perseverance

By Walt Whitman


Life on the road's not all Slurpees and Cheetos, you know. According to the speaker in "Song of the Open Road," there's a certain price of admission that must be paid to enjoy the freewheeling life of the traveler. Not only do you have to leave behind the comforts of home, but you also have to put up with the everyday challenges that life on the road poses: estrangement, harsh conditions, those tiny shampoo bottles that are impossible to get open. In all seriousness, though, our speaker is convinced that the hardships of the road are part of what make it all worth it. They teach you to appreciate your freedoms, as well as how to persevere in the face of challenges. After all, you can't have tough skin without getting a few blisters. Yeah, that was gross—sorry.

Questions About Perseverance

  1. What sorts of challenges await our speaker out on the open road?
  2. Does the speaker offer any advice on how to persevere in the face of travel-related hardships?
  3. Why, in the speaker's view, is perseverance an important part of the open road?
  4. Do you see the hardships of the open road as outweighing the benefits? Why or why not?

Chew on This

This poem is more about being free and meeting people. The benefits of the open road clearly outweigh any hardships through which you might have to persevere.

Perseverance is actually more important to this poem than freedom. Nothing builds character quite like sleeping on the side of a road in a driving rainstorm.

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