"I have measured out my life with coffee spoons." What is the author saying about the way that Prufrock has lived and is living his life?

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charcunning's profile pic

charcunning | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

Posted on

I believe that the reference to coffee spoons means that Prufrock is living his life in carefully measured doses. He is not a man prone to extremes or one who would do anything out of the ordinary or unexpected; spontaniety is not his way of life.

Yes, coffee spoons can refer to the fact that he uses coffee spoons at all of the teas he has been to, but moreso it creates an image of one who is precise and exact--Prufrock would never just dump the sugar into his tea! Each and every decision he makes is carefully weighed and measured.

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missp0127 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

The author is referring to the normal occurance of coffee or tea during social situations during the time period.  When Prufrock says he has measured his life in coffee spoons, he is alluding that he has spent a lot of time participating in social coffee or tea.  If his life can be measured in coffee spoons, then he has done little else to provide a unit of measure; he has spent much of his time simply being social. It is insinuated that he had little to contribute to these occasions. The image of a spoon makes a dull and not very enticing picture of how one's life has been spent.

kalynchatterjee's profile pic

kalynchatterjee | College Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

Measuring out life (so vast a thing) with a coffee spoon (so litle a quantity can be measured by that) denotes the enormosness of the task. In fact it undercuts Prufrock's prospect of securing any resolution about life what so ever. It also highlights the monotony -  Prufrock believes - that is attached to the task of analysing or meditating on a life that a modern man like Prufrock has.

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