Study Guide

We Real Cool Mortality

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We never learn why the speaker thinks the young pool players will "die soon," though it might have something to do with their enjoyment of sin, rum, and (perhaps) gambling. The speaker could also be thinking that the boys are living to the fullest, as though they might die tomorrow. Additionally, this moment could point to the boys’ fears, and the struggles and violence that they might encounter in their young lives.

Questions About Mortality

  1. Whose voice speaks the final line? Does it sound like a different voice from what came before?
  2. Were you surprised by the ending? Is it consistent with the rest of the poem?
  3. Do you agree with critic Hortense Spillers, who said that "We Real Cool" could be a "drinking/revelry song"? (source). How would this change the way we read the final line?
  4. How soon is "soon"?

Chew on This

The phrase "die soon" refers to these young men having a short life expectancy and not to some catastrophe just around the corner.

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