Please respond to Ariel Dorfman’s poem, “Hope,” from his collection In Case of Fire in a Foreign Land.  

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Ariel Dorfman's poem, "Hope," the idea of hope at the beginning of the poem seems impossible, and one must ask the question as to how hope could possibly survive under the circumstances described. A family's son is taken away for questioning. It that country, the car does not come with painting on the side and uniformed officers, but without license plates—as if occupied by ghosts that arrive in the night and are never seen again—who cannot be questioned:

They took him

just for a few hours

they said

just for some routine


we couldn't

find out

anything else

about him.

The tragic irony of the story, of course, is the news the parents receive five months later, from a friend who was also detained, who recognized their son's voice...and his screams. For the "authorities" were torturing him. Their hope was that they would continue to do so—how is this possible? Next year, if he was still being tortured in eight months, at least he would still be alive. And that was their hope.