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The suitors are significant because they want the hand of Penelope in marriage as they all assume that Odysseus is dead. The suitors create dramatic and situational irony as the reader waits for Odysseus to return. Odysseus' kingdom is up for grabs and the suitors all want it.
Telemachus' life is threatened by the suitors and so he decides to find his father, leaving his mother (Penelope) behind to rely on her cleverness.
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