These poems explore themes of class, money, and dreams. They make a great addition to any discussion on the American dream, aligning with the messages of some texts, and adding a perspective not often seen in many texts. “If and When Dreams Come True” suggests that it is the pursuit of our dreams that give meaning to our lives, rather than the obtainment of those dreams. “Richard Cory” suggests that money doesn’t buy happiness, and that we don’t really know what other people are feeling on the inside.
Questions on the two poems encourage close reading, analysis of poetic elements, as well as deeper thinking and discussion about the themes and big ideas of the poems.
This handout of thorough and precise questions is ready to go with minimal prep on the part of the teacher.
There are also prompts for in-class writing as well as for longer assessment.
Pairings: These poems could be used with many texts that deal with the American Dream, money, or class. Suggestions include: Daisy Miller, Death of a Salesman, The Great Gatsby, A Raisin in the Sun, The Grapes of Wrath, and Of Mice and Men.
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