My students’ responses to the real Plath quiz I just administered were too red, they hurt me, so I hereby offer an optional retest.* If your brain has not emptied of images like a cup or a room, please answer the following legibly without using the words hook, bald, black, moon, or blood.
1. What brand of cleanser works best to clear the white tumuli of a father-figure’s eyes?
2. Why did “Morning Song” make you all vow never to bear or sire children, while it strikes me as the most cheerful poem one could possibly write about the identity-negating sleep deprivation resulting from tending a newborn?
3. What marine creature does Plath see in the mirror, and what does that teach you about avoiding reflective surfaces?
4. In “Wintering,” what does Plath keep in the cellar, and please don’t all write “dead bodies” again, because that was seriously creepy?
5. Stop crying. Come here, sweetie, out of the closet. Will you major in it, major in it, major in it?
6. On a scale of 1 to 13, with 1 meaning “totally justified critique of patriarchy” and 13 meaning “wildly offensive trivialization of the Holocaust,” how ich-ich-ich-icky is “Daddy”?
7. Pure? What does it mean?
8. Why is bleeding because you “fall upon the thorns of life” so superior, Scott, to oozing gore from a trepanned veteran, dirty girl, thumb stump?
9. How can there be “nothing there” after Lady Lazarus’ “big strip tease,” except a phoenix? Alternatively, explain in three lines or less how these poems can be A) so messed up and B) simultaneously so powerful and indelible.
Extra credit if you can fold these poems back into your body OR tell me why the moon has nothing to be sad about.
*Passing this retest will not affect your actual grade in any fashion.