“Checkmate” Discussion Question Answers

Hello people. In yesterday’s post, I wrote some discussion questions for my poem “Checkmate” (in which you can download it from my download/links page). In today’s post, here are the answers.

1) The setting of the story is at an outdoors bench. The poem begins at 5 pm and ends at around midnight. I chose this setting because I wanted to emphasize on the night getting darker and darker. If I had done it indoors, then I couldn’t have emphasized on this detail.


playing chess outdoors in the night

2) The opponent is actually Death itself. The “black cloak” and the “hidden” face are all characteristics of Death. The “ravenous eyes” mentioned later in the poem can refer to Death’s hunger in taking lives. Throughout the whole poem, I talk about or give a sense of the fact that the speaker must lose no matter what. Similarly, no one can beat Death and will always have to lose to him.

3) The transition from day to night symbolizes from birth to death for the speaker.

4) The handshake symbolizes one coming in contact with death, since the opponent here is Death. In the poem’s beginning, Death and the speaker “shake hands only for a moment.” This is representing the fact that once in our lives we will have a brush with death, whether if a relative died or if we ever thought about dying. Another handshake occurs at the end, “the final, eternal handshake.” The speaker has lost the game, which symbolizes his life, and this eternal shake acknowledging he has lost symbolizes his death. By shaking hands for eternity, he will stay with Death forever, or simply stay dead forever.

5) Again, as I mentioned, the game of chess is actually the game of life. By “the greatest chess player in the world,” I meant someone who has succeeded very well in the game of life and is very much successful.

6) The fact that the speaker was winning initially symbolizes that in our early lives, we are youthful and strong and smart. But when the speaker starts losing to Death, this symbolizes our much inferior state as we start getting older.

7) The overall theme is that you cannot beat Death; Death is inevitable.

So, these are the answers. Before the start of next Monday, I will post a deeper in-depth analysis of my poem “Checkmate.” In my next post, we will move away from the subject of literature into the subject of science.


2 thoughts on ““Checkmate” Discussion Question Answers

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