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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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5. Masculine Heroes   

12. Migrant

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Activities: Author Activities

Robinson Jeffers - Author Questions

Back Back to Robinson Jeffers Activities
  1. Comprehension: Reread the two sections of "Hurt Hawks." What is the difference between the hawks in each section? List some of the things the hawks might symbolize.

  2. Comprehension: What kind of storm is referred to in line 11 of "November Surf"?

  3. Context: How do the images of California in Jeffers's verse compare to the images of California in the works of other writers in this unit? How do Viramontes, Bulosan, and Steinbeck describe the land? What do these otherwise divergent images have in common?

  4. Context: Animal symbolism is plentiful in many cultures. In the United States, dogs often represent loyalty, eagles freedom, and donkeys stubbornness. List the different animals catalogued in "Birds and Fishes." What might each type of animal represent for the poet or reader? Is the symbolic meaning particularly American?

  5. Exploration: Read several Jeffers poems and summarize their representation of nature and humanity. Compare Jeffers's attitude to what you know about literary modernism. Based on this exercise, is Jeffers a modernist? What made the modernist writers lose faith in humanity and its institutions?

  6. Exploration: Poems about animals can be understood as the poetic equivalent of still lives: places to show off the poet's powers of observation and empathy. Compare Jeffers's animal poems to those by Elizabeth Bishop ("The Fish" or "The Armadillo") and Marianne Moore ("The Jerboa," "To a Chameleon," or "Poetry").

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