Study Guide

The Layers Isolation

By Stanley Kunitz

Isolation

The speaker in "The Layers" is no stranger to solitude, or feeling isolated from his peers and surroundings. It can be a lonely road for an old soul, or a yogi, or just some retiree getting up in age. In this case, the speaker has witnessed many of his loved ones fall away as he's trekked a course into desolate territory. At times, this gets to him emotionally as he faces some hard choices.

Questions About Isolation

  1. In what ways does the speaker appear to be a lone wolf?
  2. How has his long life contributed to his isolation?
  3. Does the speaker have any friends left (other than the cloud)? How could this affect him?
  4. What seems to motivate him when he's lost and alone?

Chew on This

According to "The Layers," with great wisdom comes great personal sacrifice (the old good news-bad news scenario).

It's okay to be alone, especially if you become a better person and live forever. (Hey—isn't that the vampire dilemma? Well, maybe not the better person part…)