Walt Whitman Questions and Answers

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The speaker in "Song of Myself" observes and participates in five American scenes. For the scenes other than the one about the martyr, describe the character, the scene, and the emotions Whitman evokes, using specific words and phrases from the poem to support your claims.

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The scenes you refer to are, I assume, the episodes at the end of the section about heroism. Whitman says, “I understand the large hearts of heroes, / The courage of present times and all times.” What he means is that heroism is just another part of the poet's universal co-mingling with all life. It is interesting to note, however, that the people he calls "heroes" are very different. Let's examine them one by one:

  1. The steamship skipper: He is a hero because he will not give up. Whitman evokes this through the use of telling detail: there is the "crowded and rudderless" deck of the derelict wreck he has come across, the chalkboard on which he writes, "be of good cheer, we will not desert you," the look of the people on the wreck, the "lank, loose-gown'd women" and "sharp lipp'd men." He saves the people on...

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