A detailed analysis of the themes, structure, imagery, symbolism, and irony of “Mr. Flood’s Party.” This poem usually produces lively student discussion because of the ambiguity which Robinson was skillfully incorporated. Some students will hold that Flood’s alcoholism caused his to lose his friends while others will maintain the opposite: The loss of his friends drove Flood to alcoholism.
Studying the poem in depth reveals that in life there are seldom any hard-and-fast right or wrong answers. Also by tweaking some stereotypes about “an old drunk,” Robinson forces the reader to see beyond all rush-to-judgment prejudices. “Mr. Flood’s Party” reeks of both the human and the humane.
Through the activities and exercises in this handout students should come away with an awareness of how the smallest aspect of this textured poem is important; for instance, how is the name of the protagonist Eben Flood based on the high and the low tide?
My handout, which has blanks which your students can fill in, is suitable as an in-class activity or for homework. An Answer Key is provided on a separate sheet at the end of the handout.
Prepared by Professor William Tarvin, Ph.D., who has published many articles on literature in scholarly journals.