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ENGLISH 1118 - Reading And Writing Critically II

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John Marsh
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Rochester Community & Technical College

Reading And Writing Critically Ii (ENGL 1118)

In the poem “Disillusionment of 10 O’Clock”, Wallace Stevens compares the mundane lives of
“regular” people to the colorful, strange life of a drunken sailor. He does this by comparing their
nighttime rituals and dreams. The poem makes a statement about what it truly means to be ordinary. It
shows what is lost by staying within the box that society places on us. At first glance, the poem appears
to be short and simple, but Stevens is portraying a deeper message. Living a life that lacks color and
variety is no way to live.
In the first two lines, the author sets the tone for how he feels about the people who live in
these houses: “The houses are haunted/By white night-gowns” (1-2). By tying together “haunted” and
“white”, the mind immediately paints a picture of ghosts floating through the houses. Floating through
life brings to mind caring about nothing. These people are living life from one day to the next without
giving it much thought. Stevens’ use of the word “haunting” also implies that he is scared or saddened

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ENGLISH 1118 - Reading And Writing Critically II

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