The Cossacks Themes

Linda Pastan
This Study Guide consists of approximately 22 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Cossacks.
This section contains 624 words
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Pessimism

The speaker in “The Cossacks” is a pessimistic person, a fact she reveals in the first stanza. The first line describes her feeling that demise is always on the way. While she makes this statement as a comment about the Jewish community from which she comes, the poem is really about her own feeling that the worst awaits her. Perhaps she feels comfort or justification in her feelings by being part of a collective mind-set, which is why she claims that her pessimism is part of her culture. Regardless of why she feels the way she does, her grim outlook on life shapes her experience of life. Most of the first stanza describes that experience; she assumes that a spot on her own arm is the beginning of cancer, and she chooses to spend New Year's Eve totaling up the people who died that year instead of planning...

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This section contains 624 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Cossacks Study Guide
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