Richard Cory Questions and Answers
by Edwin Arlington Robinson

Richard Cory book cover
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What do you think is the reason for Cory's death?

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Lauren Willson, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Ultimately, we can't know why Richard Cory decided to kill himself. The poem is from the view of the people who live near him; they don't know his innermost thoughts or the problems he might have in his life. They know him as someone to pass on the streets; they don't know him as a real person.

When Richard Cory shoots himself, the people in the town are surprised. They had no idea that he was unhappy about anything. They see him as living a blessed, successful life and see themselves as less in comparison.

There's no mention of Cory having a family or friends. They don't say whether he's in good health—though they have no indication to the contrary. There is no real indication of why he ultimately shot himself. He was deeply unhappy about something and decided to commit suicide because of it.

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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We don't know for sure why Richard Cory puts a bullet through his head one calm summer night. All we can do is speculate. On the face of it, Richard seems to have everything going for him. He's handsome, rich, and well respected by everyone in the town. But as we know, appearances can often be deceptive. And the townsfolk judge Richard on the basis of his appearance—on the side that he presents to the world. But they don't really know him all that well; they don't know what's going on inside his brain.

There are all kinds of reasons why people commit suicide. Perhaps Richard was experiencing depression or some other mental health issue. Maybe he was suffering from some physical ailment that was causing him pain but which he was able to hide from everyone. We simply don't know. However, one thing seems certain: Richard Cory, for all the wonderful things he had in his life, was deeply unhappy about something. What that something was will remain a mystery.

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