Why I Like the Hospital: ISC Class 11 English (Rhapsody) solutions

Why I Like the Hospital Tony Hoagland
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Get notes, line-by-line explanation, summary, questions and answers, critical analysis, word meanings, extras, and pdf of the poem Why I Like the Hospital- Tony Hoagland which is part of ISC Class 11 English (Rhapsody). However, the notes should only be treated for references and changes should be made according to the needs of the students.

Line-by-line explanation

Because it is all right to be in a bad mood there,

This line means that in a hospital, it’s acceptable to not be cheerful or upbeat because of the generally gloomy and intense atmosphere. It’s okay to not pretend to be happy.

slouching along through the underground garage,
riding wordlessly on the elevator with the other customers,
staring at the closed beige doors like a prison wall.

In these lines, the common experiences of being in a hospital are described, including walking with an exhausted posture in the parking lot, riding silently in the lift with other patients or visitors, and gazing at the unremarkable hospital doors that can resemble prison walls due to the confinement and restrictions found there.

I like the hospital for the way it grants permission for pathos

The speaker is saying they appreciate how the hospital allows for deep, often sorrowful emotions.

— the mother with cancer deciding how to tell her kids,
the bald girl gazing downward at the shunt
installed above her missing breast,
the crone in her pajamas, walking with an IV pole.

These lines show different touching moments one might witness in a hospital: a mom trying to figure out how to tell her kids about her cancer, a young woman dealing with the loss of her hair and breast because of cancer treatment, and an older lady moving around with the help of an IV pole. These scenes create a depressing mood that promotes empathy and understanding.

I don’t like the smell of antiseptic,
or the air-conditioning set on high all night,
or the fresh flowers tossed into the wastebasket,

These lines point to the unpleasant aspects of the hospital environment: the strong smell of cleaning products, uncomfortably cold temperatures, and the sad sight of fresh flowers (likely gifts for patients) being thrown away, symbolizing fleeting hope or unfulfilled expectations.

but I like the way some people on their plastic chairs
break out a notebook and invent a complex scoring system
to tally up their days on earth,
the column on the left that says, Times I Acted Like a Fool,
facing the column on the right that says,
Times I Acted Like a Saint.

These lines highlight how some people in the hospital reflect on their lives, as if measuring their actions, good and bad. This could be a coping mechanism, a way of self-reflection or an attempt to find meaning in their circumstances.

I like the long prairie of the waiting;
the forced intimacy of the self with the self;
each sick person standing in the middle of a field,
like a tree wondering what happened to the forest.

The speaker finds value in the long periods of waiting that occur in hospitals. He sees these moments as an opportunity for individuals to engage in deep introspection and reflection. It’s like being a single tree in a wide open field (hospital), which used to be part of a forest (the outside world).

And once I saw a man in a lime-green dressing gown,
hunched over in a chair; a man who was not
yelling at the doctors, or pretending to be strong,
or making a murmured phone call to his wife,
but one sobbing without shame,

The speaker recalls a specific moment of a man, in his hospital gown, openly crying instead of trying to appear strong. He was not arguing with doctors or making quiet phone calls to his wife to tell her that he was okay. The man’s honest expression of sadness is memorable to the speaker.

pumping it all out from the bottom of the self,
the overflowing bilge of helplessness and rage,
a man no longer expecting to be saved,

The man is openly sharing his intense feelings of helplessness, and anger. He is not hiding or suppressing anything, and it appears that he has reached a point where he feels there is no chance for improvement.

but if you looked, you could see
that he was holding his own hand in sympathy,
listening to every single word,
and he was telling himself everything.

Upon taking a closer look, the speaker notices that the man is comforting himself by holding his own hand. He is carefully listening to his own emotional expression, acknowledging and validating his feelings. This shows that he is being kind and understanding to himself, even when he is feeling hopeless.

Glossary/word meaning

Pathos: A quality that evokes pity, sadness, or compassion.

Shunt: A medical device used to redirect fluid flow within the body.

Crone: An old woman, often associated with wisdom or witchcraft.

IV pole: A stand or pole used to hold intravenous (IV) bags or equipment.

Antiseptic: A substance that inhibits the growth of microorganisms and is used to prevent infections.

Scoring system: A method of assigning points or values to evaluate or measure something.

Times I Acted Like a Fool: Instances or occasions when the person behaved in a foolish manner.

Times I Acted Like a Saint: Instances or occasions when the person behaved in a virtuous or saintly manner.

Forced intimacy: The sense of closeness or familiarity that arises from being in a confined or limited space with others.

Bilge: Referring to the bottom section of a ship’s hull, which often collects water and debris.

Rage: Intense anger or fury.

Sobbing: Crying uncontrollably with audible sounds of distress.

Sympathy: Understanding, compassion, or sharing of emotions with another person.

Expecting to be saved: Hoping or relying on someone or something to rescue or help.

Holding his own hand: Symbolic of self-comfort or self-support.

Summary of the poem

Tony Hoagland’s poem “Why I Like the Hospital” is a touching analysis of the human experience within a hospital. It’s a place where we are frequently at our weakest, yet the poet discovers a special beauty in the frank honesty it provokes.

The poem starts by noting that a hospital is a place where it’s okay to feel down. The poet talks about moving quietly and thoughtfully through the hospital’s dull, practical spaces like the underground garage and the elevator, comparing the beige elevator doors to a prison wall. This highlights how trapped we often feel when we or our loved ones are in ill health.

Yet, in spite of the sterility and the sadness, the poet appreciates the hospital for providing a space for intense emotional moments. He provides glimpses of different patients – a mother with cancer, a young girl with a missing breast, and an older woman walking with an IV pole. These are snapshots of people grappling with life-altering situations, facing their fears and contemplating their own mortality.

The hospital, despite its harsh environment with its antiseptic smell and relentless air conditioning, is also a place where people take a hard look at their lives. The poet talks about people inventing scoring systems, assessing their actions, and perhaps reevaluating their past choices. They confront the aspects of themselves where they’ve been foolish and where they’ve been noble.

The slow passage of time in the hospital is described in the poem as a “long prairie of waiting,” a place where each sick individual is like a tree standing alone, likely feeling disconnected from their usual lives and relationships. As the hospital removes distractions and forces the focus inside, this might lead to forced self-exploration and a deeper awareness of oneself.

The poem depicts a man openly crying, expressing his powerlessness and rage. This individual is not pretending to be fine or expecting to be saved. He’s only expressing his emotions and releasing pent-up feelings. He’s also soothing himself, sympathetically holding his own hand, listening to himself, and speaking his truth.

“Why I Like the Hospital” is a deeply human and emotional look at the hospital experience. It shows us that despite the often harsh realities, the hospital can also be a place of introspection, emotional honesty, and self-care, and it can offer a strange kind of beauty in the face of struggle.

Critical analysis of the poem

Tony Hoagland’s poem “Why I Like the Hospital” addresses the speaker’s unusual appreciation for hospitals and the emotions they generate. The poem explores the environment, sensations, and introspective moments found in a hospital setting.

The speaker begins by professing his love for hospitals because they allow people to be in a foul mood without being judged. They describe ordinary actions that generate a sensation of confinement and separation, such as going through the garage or riding the lift silently with other patients. Closed beige doors are reminiscent of prison walls, emphasising feelings of solitude and sadness.

The hospital’s ability to evoke emotion is one of the reasons the speaker appreciates it. They see many people dealing with unpleasant situations, such as a cancer-stricken mother considering how to convey the news to her children, a bald girl reflecting on her missing breast, and an old woman in pyjamas strolling with an IV pole. These moments create empathy and emphasise human vulnerability and strength in the face of hardship.

The speaker expresses displeasure with the antiseptic odour, the constant high air-conditioning, and the needless discarding of fresh flowers. They are, however, intrigued by how some patients use the occasion to reflect on their lives. They depict people sitting on plastic chairs, developing complicated scoring systems in notebooks to keep track of their deeds, distinguishing between times they performed foolishly and times they acted virtuously. Even in the midst of disease, this introspection demonstrates a desire for self-improvement and self-awareness.

The poem then talks about what it’s like to wait in a hospital. People are made to face themselves in a unique way because they have to wait for long periods of time. The speaker says that each person is like a tree standing alone in a field and asks what has happened to the bigger forest. This metaphor shows how a hospital waiting room can make you feel alone and give you time to think.

When the speaker thinks back to seeing a man in a lime-green dressing gown, it shows a sad moment. This man openly cries instead of yelling or trying to be strong like most patients are shown to do. His tears show that he feels powerless and angry and has lost hope that he will be saved. But when you look closer, it’s clear that he’s just trying to comfort himself. He comforts himself by holding his own hand and listening carefully to his own thoughts. This act of self-compassion and self-reflection shows that someone is willing to face and accept their feelings and experiences.

“Why I Like the Hospital” praises the hospital as a place where different feelings can be shown. It accepts the sadness that comes from difficult situations and shows self-reflection and kindness in a hospital setting. The poem asks readers to think about how complicated life is and how strong we can be when we recognise and accept our weaknesses.

Themes of the poem

Permission to Feel: This theme reflects the understanding that hospitals are a place where people can fully express their emotional state. In the outside world, people often mask their feelings to adhere to societal norms, but in a hospital setting, individuals are given the allowance to show their true emotions – whether it’s fear, sadness, or anger. It’s a space that legitimizes vulnerability, as encapsulated by the patients’ various emotional struggles.

Human Suffering and Pain: The poem features characters experiencing physical and emotional distress, illuminating the universal experience of suffering. It shows that pain is part of the human condition, as seen in the descriptions of the cancer-stricken mother, the young girl with a missing breast, and the old woman tethered to her IV pole. These characters embody the raw reality of human pain, making it a prominent theme.

Self-Reflection: The poet illustrates how hospitals often become spaces for self-reflection. In the face of life-altering conditions, individuals begin to evaluate their past actions and choices. They construct mental lists, reckoning with times they have acted foolishly or saintly. This theme emphasizes introspection as a crucial step toward understanding oneself and reevaluating life’s priorities.

Loneliness and Isolation: The poet refers to the hospital experience as a “long prairie of the waiting,” symbolizing the isolation that patients experience. The imagery of a single sick person standing alone like a tree in the middle of a field underlines the existential loneliness that often accompanies illness, when one is stripped away from the buzz of normal life.

Self-Compassion: The man sobbing openly and holding his own hand in comfort in the poem represents self-compassion, a powerful theme in the poem. It shows that in moments of distress and despair, offering kindness and understanding to oneself can be a coping mechanism. The man’s act of self-comfort suggests that there’s strength in acknowledging and tending to one’s emotional pain.

Mortality: Though not explicitly stated, the theme of mortality looms throughout the poem. The hospital setting, the illnesses, and the raw emotions all highlight the fragility of human life. Confronting mortality is an integral part of the hospital experience, forcing individuals to grapple with the impermanence of life.

Figure of speech

Simile: The poet uses a simile when he says the hospital patients are like “a tree wondering what happened to the forest.” This comparison illustrates the feeling of loneliness and isolation a person can experience in the hospital, as if they’re a single tree left standing where a whole forest used to be.

Metaphor: The hospital is described as having “the long prairie of the waiting,” which is a metaphor that compares the hospital waiting area to a vast, empty prairie. This image gives the sense of endless waiting and the emotional exhaustion that comes with it.

Personification: When the poet talks about the patients breaking out a notebook and inventing a “scoring system” for their lives, this can be seen as a form of personification. Notebooks can’t break out on their own, but this way of speaking helps to vividly illustrate the patients’ self-reflection process.

Imagery: The poet uses vivid imagery throughout the poem, painting a picture of the hospital setting and the people in it. One example is the “man in a lime-green dressing gown, hunched over in a chair,” which helps us visualize the scene and the emotions involved.

Hyperbole: When the poet says “pumping it all out from the bottom of the self,” it’s an exaggeration, or hyperbole, used to emphasize the depth of the man’s emotional release. It gives a sense of the extreme emotional state the man is in.

About the author

Tony Hoagland was a famous poet from America. His dad was a doctor in the Army, so Tony lived in many different places when he was young, like Hawaii, Alabama, Ethiopia, and Texas. According to a writer named Don Lee, Tony went to many colleges but didn’t finish, he picked apples and cherries in the Northwest, lived with groups of people, followed a band called the Grateful Dead, and started practicing Buddhism. He taught creative writing at the University of Houston and also taught at Warren Wilson College.

Tony won many awards for his poetry, including the Jackson Poetry Prize, the Mark Twain Award, and the O. B. Hardison, Jr. Award. He passed away in 2018.

Tony wrote many books of poetry, like “Sweet Ruin” in 1992, “Donkey Gospel” in 1998, “What Narcissism Means to Me” in 2003, “Rain” in 2005, and “Priest Turned Therapist Treats Fear of God” in 2018. He also wrote two books about poetry. His last book of poems, “Turn Up the Ocean,” was published in 2022 and he’s been called one of the most special voices of our time.

Tony’s poems are known for being sharp and funny, often commenting on modern life in a direct way. In 2010, a critic for the New York Times named Dwight Garner said that Tony’s clever, educated poems often end with feelings of sadness and desire and that they can surprise you with emotional pain on even the happiest days.

“Turn Up the Ocean” is a book of poems that honestly and humorously look at what it’s like to live and die in a world that often ignores our feelings and thoughts. The poems suggest that in order to keep going, we need to be sceptical and find humour, seek real connections with others, and find comfort in nature.

Workbook solutions/answers

Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs)

(i) Liking for the hospital is something

Answer: (c) unusual

(ii) It is in hospital that you.

Answer: (d) can see some persons expressing their passions openly

(iii) Where is the poet staring at closed yellowish brown doors like a prison wall?

Answer: (d) in an elevator

(iv) Which of these statements is NOT true?

Answer: (c) The old woman walking with her IV pole was happy.

(v) What kind of society is the object of satire in the poem?

Answer: (c) the society which views the open expression of sentiments disdainfully.

(vi) In what mood were some people in the hospital counting their days on earth?

Answer: (d) sad

(vii) Which of these does the poet like?

Answer: (b) visiting a hospital

(vii) Which dress was worn by the terminal patient sobbing openly?

Answer: (a) lime-green dressing gown

(ix) Which figure of speech is used in the line:

Answer: (c) metaphor

(x) What does the poet want to convey through the poem ‘Why I Like the Hospital’?

Answer: (c) that expressing one’s sentiments openly should not be viewed as a sign of weakness.

Logic-based questions

(i) The poet likes the hospital because _____________

Answer: it grants permission for expressing pathos and emotional pain openly. It’s a place where it’s okay to be in a bad mood and where the harsh realities of life are fully acknowledged and confronted.

(ii) The poet does not like one to stifle his or her feelings because _____________

Answer: he sees the hospital as a place of genuine emotion and authenticity, where people are forced to confront their vulnerabilities. Suppressing feelings can often lead to emotional burden and lack of self-awareness.

(iii) The bold girl seems to be depressed because _____________

Answer: she is coping with the impact of cancer treatment which resulted in her losing a breast and having a shunt installed above it.

(iv) Some people in the hospital bring out their notebooks because _____________

Answer: they are using this time to reflect on their lives, creating a scoring system to evaluate their actions on earth, perhaps as a method of coming to terms with their mortality

(v) The poet dislikes the smell of antiseptic because _____________

Answer: it is a harsh reminder of the sterile, impersonal aspect of the hospital, contrasting with the deeply personal and emotional experiences of the patients.

(vi) The poet does not like ACs to be run on high speed all night in the hospital because _____________

Answer: it adds to the discomfort and sterile, impersonal environment, likely making the stay of patients less comfortable.

(vii) Fresh flowers in a wastebasket is a bad sight because _____________

Answer: it represents the fleetingness of life, health, and beauty; they’re a symbol of hope and joy discarded, mirroring the situations of the patients in the hospital.

(viii) The man in the lime-green dressing gown was in an extremely sorrowful mood because _____________

Answer: he was in a state of deep despair, helplessness, and rage, likely due to his severe illness.

(ix) The terminal patient continued crying openly because _____________

Answer: he was expressing his pent-up emotions, perhaps a mix of fear, anger, and sadness. He had seemingly reached a point where he no longer expected to be saved.

(x) Each sick person feels lonely like a tree in the field because _____________

Answer: they are isolated with their pain and suffering, perhaps feeling disconnected from the healthier world outside, similar to a single tree separated from its forest.

Short answer questions

(i) Comment on the title of the poem ‘Why I Like the Hospital’.

Answer: The title of the poem ‘Why I Like the Hospital’ seems at first glance to be contradictory or paradoxical, since hospitals are generally associated with illness, suffering, and death rather than enjoyment. However, this title sets up the theme of the poem which explores how the hospital can serve as a setting for authentic emotional expression and deep introspection, which the poet appreciates.

(ii) Why does the poet like the hospitial ?

Answer: The poet likes the hospital because it is a place where it’s acceptable to express sadness and pain. He appreciates the raw and genuine emotions that are displayed there. He also likes the introspective moments that the hospital provokes, encouraging people to reckon with their lives and their humanity.

(iii) What scenes of human suffering are depicted in the poem?

Answer: The scenes of human suffering depicted in the poem include a mother with cancer struggling with how to share her diagnosis with her children, a young woman coping with the aftermath of a mastectomy, an elderly woman managing her illness with an IV pole, and a man openly sobbing in his despair. These depictions underline the stark realities of illness and mortality that people confront in the hospital.

(iv) Describe the state of mind of the terminal patient. How does he conduct himself?

Answer: The terminal patient is in a state of profound despair and helplessness, no longer expecting to be saved. However, rather than expressing anger or pretending to be strong, he is openly sobbing, letting out his feelings without any inhibition. Interestingly, the patient is also depicted as comforting himself, holding his own hand and talking to himself, demonstrating self-empathy in the face of suffering.

(v) The poet satirises the tendency among most of us to pretend to be strong comment.

Answer: The poet indeed satirizes the common tendency among people to pretend to be strong, especially in times of adversity. The hospital setting strips away these pretenses, revealing authentic emotions. He acknowledges the inherent vulnerability and fear that come with sickness and suggests that it’s okay not to be strong all the time. This openness and authenticity are perhaps what he appreciates most about the hospital.

Long answer questions

(i) There is nothing to be likeable about the hospital. Then why does the poet say that he likes the hospital. Discuss with close reference to the text.

Answer: At first glance, the poet’s assertion that he likes the hospital seems unusual because hospitals are often associated with illness, pain, and suffering. However, Hoagland’s poem reveals that it’s not the physical attributes of the hospital that he appreciates, but rather the raw and authentic emotions that are expressed within its walls. He points out how the hospital environment permits and even encourages the display of pathos — deep emotional suffering or sorrow. For instance, he notes the mother grappling with how to tell her children about her cancer or the bald girl looking at her surgical shunt. There’s a sense of humanity and reality that he appreciates — the hospital is a place where it’s alright to be in a bad mood, where people are confronting their vulnerabilities head-on. This authenticity, this unfiltered view of the human condition, is what the poet finds likeable.

(ii) Describe the scenes of human sorrow and suffering as depicted in the hospital. 

Answer: The poem paints several vivid pictures of human sorrow and suffering within the hospital. We see a mother with cancer, possibly trying to muster the strength to inform her children about her illness. There’s a young woman who has lost her hair and a breast to cancer, now left with a surgical shunt as a stark reminder of her ordeal. An elderly woman is seen navigating the hospital with an IV pole, a symbol of her frail health. Perhaps most poignant is the man in the lime-green dressing gown sobbing without restraint, his tears a mixture of helplessness and rage. The suffering here is raw and undiluted, and the poet portrays it with striking honesty.

(iii) Write a note on the use of humour and satire in the poem.

Answer: Humour and satire in the poem are subtle and used to underline the gravity of the situations depicted. The poet satirically comments on the “Times I Acted Like a Fool” versus “Times I Acted Like a Saint” tally system that some patients use, highlighting the absurdity of such dichotomous self-assessment in the face of mortality. There’s a sense of dark humor in the description of the hospital as a place where it’s okay to be in a bad mood, in contrast to the societal norm of maintaining a cheerful facade. Through these instances of humor and satire, the poet underscores the incongruities of human behavior in the face of life and death situations.

Additional questions and answers

1. What is the central theme of the poem?

Answer: The central theme of the poem is the human experience of suffering, vulnerability, and self-reflection in the context of a hospital.

2. How does the poet use imagery to convey the atmosphere of the hospital?

Answer: The poet uses vivid imagery to convey the sterile, impersonal, and somber atmosphere of the hospital. Phrases like “underground garage”, “closed beige doors like a prison wall”, and “air-conditioning set on high all night” paint a picture of a cold, clinical environment. Yet, amidst this, the poet also highlights the human element with images of patients in various states of distress and introspection.

3. What does the poem suggest about the human capacity for self-compassion in times of suffering?

Answer: The poem suggests that in times of suffering, humans have the capacity to extend compassion towards themselves. This is seen in the final lines where a man, in his despair, holds his own hand in sympathy and listens to his own words. This act of self-compassion is a powerful testament to the human ability to find comfort and understanding within oneself, even in the most dire of circumstances.

4. Does the poet’s depiction of the hospital environment contribute to or detract from the poem’s overall impact?

Answer: The poet’s depiction of the hospital environment significantly contributes to the poem’s overall impact. The stark contrast between the sterile, impersonal hospital setting and the deeply personal human experiences of suffering and introspection heightens the emotional resonance of the poem.

5. How does the poet use the concept of ‘waiting’ in the poem, and what does it signify?

Answer: The poet uses the concept of ‘waiting’ as a metaphor for the state of being a patient in a hospital. Described as “the long prairie of the waiting”, it signifies a state of uncertainty, vulnerability, and introspection. It’s a time when individuals are forced to confront their own mortality, reflect on their lives, and grapple with their emotions. This period of waiting becomes a profound experience of self-discovery and self-compassion.

6. What does the poem suggest about the human experience of suffering?

Answer: The poem suggests that suffering is an integral part of the human experience, and it is during these times of hardship that individuals confront their deepest fears, regrets, and hopes, leading to profound self-understanding and compassion.

7. Who is the speaker in the poem?

Answer: The speaker in the poem is an observer, possibly the poet himself, who is reflecting on the experiences and emotions of the people in the hospital.

8. How does the poet use contrast in the poem?

Answer: The poet uses contrast effectively to highlight the disparity between the cold, clinical environment of the hospital and the raw, emotional experiences of its patients. This contrast serves to amplify the human element within the impersonal setting.

9. What does the poem suggest about the role of hospitals in our society?

Answer: The poem suggests that hospitals, while primarily places of healing, are also spaces where individuals confront their mortality, reflect on their lives, and experience deep emotional transformations. They are places where the veneer of everyday life is stripped away, revealing the raw essence of human existence.

10. How effective is the poet’s use of metaphor in conveying the emotional landscape of the poem?

Answer: The poet’s use of metaphor is highly effective in conveying the emotional landscape of the poem. Metaphors such as “a tree wondering what happened to the forest” and “the long prairie of the waiting” evoke a sense of isolation, vulnerability, and introspection, encapsulating the emotional journey of the patients.

11. How does the poet depict the concept of self-reflection in the poem?

Answer: The poet depicts self-reflection as a profound and necessary process that arises in times of hardship. The hospital setting, with its inherent vulnerability and isolation, provides a backdrop for this introspection. The patients, in their waiting and suffering, reflect on their lives, tallying their regrets and virtues, and in the process, gain a deeper understanding of themselves.

12. What does the poem suggest about the human response to adversity?

Answer: The poem suggests that in the face of adversity, humans have the capacity for deep introspection, self-compassion, and emotional resilience.

13. What does the poem suggest about the relationship between suffering and self-understanding?

Answer: The poem suggests that suffering, while painful, can lead to profound self-understanding. In the midst of their suffering, the patients in the hospital reflect on their lives, confront their regrets and virtues, and extend compassion towards themselves, leading to a deeper understanding of their own humanity.

14. What insights does the title of the poem, “Why I Like the Hospital,” provide?

Answer: The title of the poem, “Why I Like the Hospital,” provides an initial insight into the poet’s perspective. It suggests a counterintuitive affection for a place typically associated with suffering and pain, sparking curiosity about the reasons behind this sentiment.

15. What reasons does the poet give for his affinity towards the hospital?

Answer: The poet appreciates the hospital for its raw honesty. It is a place where it’s acceptable to be in a bad mood, where human vulnerability is laid bare. The hospital also provides a space for deep introspection and self-compassion, as seen in the man holding his own hand in sympathy.

16. What instances of human suffering are portrayed in the poem?

Answer: The poem portrays several instances of human suffering: a mother with cancer contemplating how to break the news to her children, a young girl looking at the shunt above her missing breast, an elderly woman walking with an IV pole, and a man sobbing uncontrollably, among others.

17. How would you describe the mindset of the patient nearing the end of his life, and how does he behave?

Answer: The mindset of the terminal patient is one of despair, resignation, and profound self-compassion. He is not pretending to be strong or complaining; instead, he is sobbing without shame, expressing his helplessness and anger. Remarkably, he is seen comforting himself, holding his own hand, and listening to his own words.

18. The poet seems to critique the common tendency to feign strength. Could you elaborate on this?

Answer: The poet indeed critiques the common tendency to feign strength, particularly in the face of adversity. He highlights the authenticity of the man who, instead of pretending to be strong, allows himself to openly express his despair. This critique suggests that there is strength in vulnerability and authenticity.

19. Despite the hospital’s typically unlikable aspects, the poet professes his liking for it. Could you discuss this paradox with reference to the text?

Answer: The poet likes the hospital not for its physical attributes, but for the emotional and psychological experiences it fosters. Despite the antiseptic smell, the high air-conditioning, and the discarded fresh flowers, the hospital is a place where people are allowed to be vulnerable, to reflect on their lives, and to express their emotions freely. It’s this raw honesty and introspection that the poet appreciates.

20. Could you describe the depictions of human sorrow and suffering in the hospital as portrayed in the poem?

Answer: The poem vividly depicts scenes of human sorrow and suffering: a mother grappling with her cancer diagnosis, a young girl confronting her physical loss, an elderly woman tethered to an IV pole, and a man in a lime-green dressing gown sobbing without restraint. These scenes underscore the raw emotional landscape of the hospital.

21. Could you comment on the use of humour and satire in the poem?

Answer: While the poem primarily deals with serious themes, there are subtle elements of humour and satire. For instance, the poet satirically describes patients inventing a complex scoring system to tally up their days on earth, a commentary on our human tendency to quantify and categorize experiences. This use of humour and satire adds depth to the poem, highlighting the complexity of the human experience even in the face of suffering.

Additional MCQs

1. What does the hospital symbolize in the poem? 

A. A place of healing B. A place of suffering C. A place of introspection and raw emotion D. A place of joy and happiness 

Answer: C. A place of introspection and raw emotion 

2. Why does the poet like the hospital? 

A. Because of the smell of antiseptic B. Because of the air-conditioning set on high all night C. Because it grants permission for pathos and introspection D. Because of the fresh flowers 

Answer: C. Because it grants permission for pathos and introspection 

3. What does the man in the lime-green dressing gown symbolize in the poem? 

A. Fear and anxiety B. Strength and resilience C. Vulnerability and self-compassion D. Anger and frustration 

Answer: C. Vulnerability and self-compassion 

4. What does the “long prairie of the waiting” refer to in the poem? A. The waiting room in the hospital B. The long wait for recovery C. The state of uncertainty and introspection in the hospital D. The vast open spaces of a prairie 

Answer: C. The state of uncertainty and introspection in the hospital 

5. What does the poet mean by “the forced intimacy of the self with the self”? 

A. The requirement to be alone in the hospital B. The need to confront one’s own mortality C. The deep introspection and self-reflection that occurs in the hospital D. The physical discomfort experienced in the hospital 

Answer: C. The deep introspection and self-reflection that occurs in the hospital 

6. What does the poet not like about the hospital? 

A. The smell of antiseptic B. The people who are suffering C. The long waiting times D. The complex scoring system 

Answer: A. The smell of antiseptic 

7. What does the poet mean by “each sick person standing in the middle of a field, like a tree wondering what happened to the forest”? 

A. The isolation felt by patients in the hospital B. The confusion experienced by patients about their illness C. The feeling of being lost in a large hospital D. The longing for the comfort of home and familiar surroundings 

Answer: A. The isolation felt by patients in the hospital 

8. What does the poet appreciate about some people in the hospital? 

A. Their strength and resilience B. Their ability to invent a complex scoring system to tally up their days on earth C. Their ability to stay positive D. Their ability to recover quickly 

Answer: B. Their ability to invent a complex scoring system to tally up their days on earth

Fill in the blanks/complete the sentences

1. The poet likes the hospital because it is all right to be in a ________ there. 

Answer: bad mood 

2. The poet describes staring at the closed beige doors like a ________. 

Answer: prison wall 

3. The poet doesn’t like the smell of ________ in the hospital. 

Answer: antiseptic 

4. In the hospital, the poet observes some people breaking out a notebook to invent a complex ________. 

Answer: scoring system 

5. The poet refers to the waiting in the hospital as the long prairie of the ________. 

Answer: waiting 

6 In the hospital, each sick person is described as standing in the middle of a field, like a tree wondering what happened to the ________. 

Answer: forest 

7. The poet observes a man in a lime-green dressing gown who is not yelling at the doctors, or pretending to be strong, but one ________ without shame. 

Answer: sobbing 

8. The man in the lime-green dressing gown is described as pumping it all out from the bottom of the ________. 

Answer: self 

9. The man in the lime-green dressing gown is no longer expecting to be ________. 

Answer: saved 

10. If you looked at the man in the lime-green dressing gown, you could see that he was holding his own hand in ________. 

Answer: sympathy 

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