- Why do you think the poet chose the experiences of a well-known fictional character for her subject, rather than inventing a new heroine?
- At what moment does the poem begin? Why do you think the poet chose this episode as the subject for her poem?
- What is the relationship of the narator to the subject? How can we tell her point of view? How does the narrative commentary affect the poem?
- What are aspects of the poem's narrative sequence, word choice, and rhythm? Do they contribute to its effect?
- What Biblical moment is presented in the poem? Is Vashti a central character in the book of Esther? If not, why do you think this heroine was chosen?
- What is offensive about the king's request? What values cause Vashti to refuse? Does the poem's ending provide a satisfactory closure?
- In the context of the history of African-American women, why might this poem have seemed to portray an important topic?
- What are features of the poem's rhythm, rhyme scheme, and narrative voice?
"Bury Me in a Free Land"
- What is important about the poem's date of composition and publication? Why does the poet choose this point of view for attacking slavery?
- What does the poem reveal about its speaker? What linguistic and thematic choices reinforce her point?
- Does the poem's stanzas form and rhyme scheme help convey its meaning?
"A Double Standard"
- What seems to have happened in this poem? From whose point of view is the poem declaimed?
- What aspects of her situation does the speaker consider unfair? What aspects of her mode of narration convey her point?
- In the context of its time, what may have motivated Harper to write a poem on this topic?