In "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" what is the question that is never asked?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Alfred Prufrock is shown to be a master of indecision and procrastination as he heads towards a date with a woman whom he plans to ask "some overwhelming question" once they have finished their afternoon tea:

After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,

Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,

Would it have been worth while,

To have bittten off the matter with a smile,

To have squeezed the universe into a ball

To roll it towards some overwhelming question...

Although we are never told what the nature of this question is, we can perhaps infer from the constant indecision and self-doubt and lack of engagement in society expressed by Alfred Prufrock that he is contemplating asking this woman to marry him. However, as much as he longs for romantic love and the courage to assert himself, we see that he is bowed down by an intense fear of being misunderstood and of being ridiculed by others. The poem ends before he reaches his date, and this perhaps suggests that these fears will keep him isolated and alone and he will never come to ask his question.

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