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Introduction & Overview of What Belongs to Us by Marie Howe

Marie Howe
This Study Guide consists of approximately 25 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of What Belongs to Us.
This section contains 203 words
(approx. 1 page at 300 words per page)
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What Belongs to Us Summary & Study Guide Description

What Belongs to Us 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 Further Reading on What Belongs to Us by Marie Howe.

Introduction

"What Belongs to Us" is included in Marie Howe's first book, The Good Thief (1988), which Margaret Atwood picked for the National Poetry Series Award in 1987. In twenty long free-verse lines, the poem lists things that people can never really own, including phone numbers, memories, other people, the past and, ironically, their own pain. Howe's primary theme is the transitory nature of human life, the idea that "all things must pass." Rather than making abstract metaphysical comments on life, however, Howe piles up images to make her point. The cumulative "weight" of her list hits readers, so they reconsider exactly what it is they do own, if anything. Many of the poems in the collection are of a spiritual nature, as is the tone of "What Belongs to Us." Although the speaker uses personal memories to make her claim, memories accessible only to her, she universalizes her experience, suggesting that all people have similar memories. She does this to emphasize the idea that individual identity is illusory and that individual human consciousness is part of a larger cosmic consciousness. This notion is rooted in Eastern religious traditions, and in the American poetic tradition of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Walt Whitman, among others.

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This section contains 203 words
(approx. 1 page at 300 words per page)
Purchase our What Belongs to Us Study Guide
Copyrights
What Belongs to Us from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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