A detailed stanza-by-stanza analysis of Stevens’s poem: its background (including an account of the Key West street brawl between Stevens and the famous novelist Ernest Hemingway), its theme of order, its structure, its allusions, and its use of irony.
As an addendum to the answer key, I have included three pages of information about Stevens’s life, the general themes of his poems, their stylistic features, and additional details about “The Idea of Order at Key West” not covered in the handout for the students, such as its use of assonance. These notes may prove helpful in answering any questions which your pupils may ask about Stevens or the poem, or you may simply decide to incorporate some of its points into class discussion of “The Idea of Order.”
My handout, which has blanks which your students can fill in, is suitable as an in-class activity or for homework. As mentioned, 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.