Introduction & Overview of Trouble with Math in a One-Room Country School

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Trouble with Math in a One-Room Country School Summary & Study Guide Description

Trouble with Math in a One-Room Country School Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains For Further Study on Trouble with Math in a One-Room Country School by Jane Kenyon.

"Trouble with Math in aOne-Room Country School" first appeared in 1986 in Jane Kenyon's second volume of poems, The Boat of Quiet Hours, and again in her collection of new and selected poems, Otherwise (1996). In both prose and poems, Kenyon readily confesses that math was her weakest subject. This poem recalls a humiliating moment in elementary school when academic difficulty leads to punishment, not help. In her case, it also leads to an inner change, a heart newly "hardened against authority." In the short span of this three-stanza, 25-line poem we learn much about the settings, both outer and inner, for the change that takes place.

Aside from the title, the poem does not specifically identify the nature of her trouble, nor does it directly track the processes of her inner transformation. The poem delivers this "information" obliquely. As a result, the context of her "trouble with math" expands in the widening rings of sensory details, such as "the smell / of sweeping compound," the startling image of Christ on Ann's blue bookmark, and the sound of a Haydn melody hummed in the furnace closet. These indirections help tell a story far larger than the central issue or event itself. "Trouble with Math in a One-Room Country School" is typical of Kenyon's attention to a single moment, and of her ability to make it present through sensory detail and clear, spare language. The poem provides insight into the mind of a child: what she perceives, and how she copes with adult perceptions.

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This section contains 253 words
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Poetry for Students
Trouble with Math in a One-Room Country School from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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