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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
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Activities: Author Activities

Muriel Rukeyser - Author Questions

Back Back to Muriel Rukeyser Activities
  1. Comprehension: In what ways does Rukeyser's "Alloy" condemn the steel-making industry?

  2. Comprehension: Though the speaker of "Alloy" seems to be addressing "things," how is the poem really about people?

  3. Comprehension: Find the definition of "alloy" in the dictionary. Why might Rukeyser have used this word as the title of her poem?

  4. Context: Steel production was a major industry in the United States in the late 1930s; however, relatively high labor costs and concerns about pollution and the environment gradually moved most steel production overseas. How does Rukeyser foreshadow the loss of this industry in "Alloy"?

  5. Context: Who is "the gangster" referred to in the beginning of "Alloy" and what effect does that term have on the reader? Remember that gangsters loomed large in the public imagination in the 1920s and 1930s. Figures such as John Dillinger, Al Capone, and Bugsy Siegel dominated newspaper headlines for their involvement in drug dealing, prostitution, gambling, and loan sharking.

  6. Exploration: Apprehension about the power of technology and industry continues as a major theme in late-twentieth-century science fiction movies. Analyze how such films as Terminator and Minority Report represent these fears. Pay particular attention to what the films' endings say about the place of technology in our lives.

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