Regarding "Filling Station" by Elizabeth Bishop.

Describe the layout of the filling station: What is in the front of the station and what is at the back?


Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Elizabeth Bishop's "Filling Station" presents contrasting images of an unkempt gas station at which nearly everything is oily.

 Oh, but it is dirty!
--this little filling station,
oil-soaked, oil-permeated
to a disturbing, over-all
black translucency.

All that is out front, then, is permeated with the translucent black, even the father's and "greasy" sons' jumpsuits.  Yet, the word "translucency" suggests that there is more to see than the oily and dirty appearance of the station. For, in the back of the station-- although oily--there is the evidence of family living:  wicker furniture, comic books, a begonia, doilies crocheted with flowerets, and neatly arranged oil cans that display the gasoline company's logo, while at the same time it spells out a "soft" metaphoric message: "SO-SO-SO"--that is, so what? Things are oily, but there is still a family here as a person, a loving person, has embroidered the doily, watered the plant, arranged the cans.

In the front is a gas station much like many other gas stations. But, in back, there is a familial setting, albeit a bit oily, where evidence of family and love exists.


See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial