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the narrator of the poem below gently disagrees with waterman s choice to die on the mountain he asks was it bravery or cowardice what waterman did 250 words

The narrator of the poem below gently disagrees with Waterman’s choice to die on the mountain. He asks: “Was it bravery or cowardice, what Waterman did?” We can ask whether Waterman seems to be in the tradition of Hemingway’s Nick or Mukherjee’s Shaila? Is he more like Eliot’s Prufrock? Fitzgerald’s Charlie? Or Ellison’s “invisible man?” Have American “values” changed? What’s your opinion of Waterman’s choice?

250 words. Emailed. Please be sure to put your name on the paper. Use American Literature short paper as the subject line.

On Feb. 6, 67-year-old Guy Waterman- naturalist,
outdoorsman, devoted husband…decided to climb a New Hampshire mountain, lie
down on the cold stones and die overnight of exposure. “Death is intended,” he
wrote.

…the melancholy beauty of giving it all up.


Isn’t that what Eskimos did when they were old,

Dragged themselves through a wilderness

Of ice and up some mountain?

Then they could fall asleep forever,

Their dark eyes speckled with falling snow–

Not a suicide exactly but the opening

Of a door so death could enter.

“Quit while you’re ahead, my father told me

As I was feeding quarters into slot machines.

And that’s what Waterman did, he quit

Before infirmity could catch him, or other afflictions

Whose breath he could already smell.

But I wanted more: a waterfall of coins

Spilt on my lap, the raw electric charge

Of money. I came away with nothing;

But I still wanted more, if only more chapters

In the family book I’m part of: I want

To read all the unfolding stories–each child

A mystery only time can solve.

Was it bravery or cowardice, what Waterman did,

Or are those simply two sides of a coin,

Like the coin some casual God might flip,

Deciding who would live or die that day?

I’d rather flip the coin myself, but not at 67.

And not quite yet, I tell myself at 70, as spring

Streams in over our suburban hills, enflaming

Even the white New Hampshire mountains.

 

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the narrator of the poem below gently disagrees with waterman s choice to die on the mountain he asks was it bravery or cowardice what waterman did 250 words was first posted on August 12, 2020 at 3:38 am.
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