Study Guide

There's been a Death, in the Opposite House Summary

By Emily Dickinson

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There's been a Death, in the Opposite House Summary

What a difference a day makes, especially to someone who was alive yesterday, and then isn't today. This whole poem takes place in the course of one short day, while the speaker sits by the window and watches the goings-on at his neighbor's house across the way. The house itself screams death. There's no doubt about what's gone down here.

The neighbors come and go. The doctor confirms death and leaves. A window is thrown open and a mattress is thrown out. Kids are curious, but also unnerved by signs of the death. The minister makes his grand entrance and quickly takes control of everything. It's handled.The hatmaker and the undertaker are next in the series; both do their jobs. Soon, we're told, there will be the funeral process with all the usual formalities. All of this news is as easy to see and understand as reading a sign or having an intuition born from small town living.

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