Can you help me understand this English question?
Answer the first three questions in a complete paragraph, or paragraphs, in at least 1/2 page, double-spaced. Quote words or phrases that support your claims, although you may not need to since you’ll be highlighting some parts of the poem. Write your response underneath Ms. Kumin’s poem.
First, I want you read “Woodchucks” one time, slowly, and try to put the situation together. As you read it a second time, highlight in YELLOW any words or phrases you need to look up. Use Comment text to define the words. Always double-check a word if you’re not quite sure, or if it seems oddly used.
1 – Who is speaking in this poem?
2 – What is the situation? There are five stanzas. Note key words/lines that develop the situation in each stanza. Be prepared to talk about each stanza in class Tue.
3 – Are there any indications of the historical/cultural context of this poem? If so, identify the words or lines. Do you need to explore (Google!) any words or ideas for history or context to better understand the situation? Explain.
4 – Tone! Think about the tone in this poem. Remember, the tone may be tied to a character(s) as well as to the situation. Read the poem again, and Highlight using the third MS Word color, the LIGHT BLUE, any words, phrases, or lines that contribute to the tone of the poem. Use Comment text to explain (in a sentence) how this highlighted piece adds to the tone. If you’re not sure about a word or phrase, consider how changing it might change the tone. What is the tone? Avoid simple labels, such as “happy” or “sad.” Come up with a few words that are in some way supported by what you have highlighted.
by Maxine Kumin
Gassing the woodchucks didn’t turn out right.
The knockout bomb from the Feed and Grain Exchange
was featured as merciful, quick at the bone
and the case we had against them was airtight,
both exits shoehorned shut with puddingstone,
but they had a sub-sub-basement out of range.
Next morning they turned up again, no worse
for the cyanide than we for our cigarettes
and state-store Scotch, all of us up to scratch.
They brought down the marigolds as a matter of course
and then took over the vegetable patch
nipping the broccoli shoots, beheading the carrots.
The food from our mouths, I said, righteously thrilling
to the feel of the .22, the bullets’ neat noses.
I, a lapsed pacifist fallen from grace
puffed with Darwinian pieties for killing,
now drew a bead on the little woodchuck’s face.
He died down in the everbearing roses.
Ten minutes later I dropped the mother. She
flipflopped in the air and fell, her needle teeth
still hooked in a leaf of early Swiss chard.
Another baby next. O one-two-three
the murderer inside me rose up hard,
the hawkeye killer came on stage forthwith.
There’s one chuck left. Old wily fellow, he keeps
me cocked and ready day after day after day.
All night I hunt his humped-up form. I dream
I sight along the barrel in my sleep.
If only they’d all consented to die unseen
gassed underground the quiet Nazi way.
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