Introduction & Overview of Portrait of a Couple at Century's End

Sherod Santos
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Portrait of a Couple at Century's End Summary & Study Guide Description

Portrait of a Couple at Century's End Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

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“Portrait of a Couple at Century's End” contrasts the private pain of contemporary life to the awareness of global strife. Its author, Sherod Santos, does not give a detailed view of the couple mentioned in the title but instead looks at their situation in only the most general terms. He presents them as the sort of anonymous people who live all over America in warm, respectable homes and commute to jobs that distract them from the fact that they are out of touch with what is important in their lives. These are people who have chosen a life of comfort over openly acknowledging the memories of bad times that haunt them. The couple live a life of quiet discontent, making small talk over dinner and pretending that past arguments have no lingering effect. Santos stands these controlled lives against the international news that streams into the couple's living room over the twenty-four-hour news network, bringing the horrors of modern urban warfare into their staid living room with the same emotional suppression that characterizes the couple's quiet lives.

A version of “Portrait of a Couple at Century's End” was published in the January 7, 1992, issue of the Nation. A revision of the poem is in The Pilot Star Elegies, which was published in 1999 by W. W. Norton and for which Santos was a finalist for the National Book Award.

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This section contains 229 words
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