Questions about Omeros' General Message

Overall Questions

  1. How does Walcott conceive of Achille? (cf. 30.2, 36.1, 53.1, 59.2, 64.1)
  2. How does Walcott conceive of and understand the project of the past? of history?
  3. What is the purpose of the wounding motif? (cf. 3.3, 46.3, 49, 59.1, 61.3, 63.2)
  4. Why does Walcott weave together his own story and experience with that of the Plunketts, that of Achille-Helen- Hector, and that of Philoctete and Ma Kilman?
  5. What is the purpose and meaning of the Omeros figure in the poem?
  6. What is the purpose of Helen and her beauty? (cf. 6.3, 23.3, 46.2, 64.2)
  7. Can you characterize Omeros as a magical realist text? Why or why not?
  8. Would the poem be weaker or stronger without Books 4 and 5?
painting titled Domino Players by Derek Walcott

"Domino Players," gouache on paper, done by Derek Walcott in 1999.

Book 1

  1. How would you describe Achille's making of a pirogue (dugout canoe)? Is it a spiritual experience? Why or why not?
  2. What is the Plunketts' relationship to the colonial past?
  3. What is Walcott suggesting about the Caribbean past and present by describing the myth of the sunken galleon?
  4. What kind of realm does the underworld represent for Achille?
  5. How does Plunkett conceive of his historical project? Why is it significant?
  6. What is the significance of Walcott's meeting with his father's ghost?

Book 2

  1. Why does Walcott shift to the past Battle of the Saintes?
  2. What do we learn of Achille's own past?
  3. What is the major's relationship with this past?
  4. Why is the political subplot involving Statics important?
  5. How are Achille's situation and the Major's contrasted?
  6. What is the importance of the swift to Achille? Why does he question his identity?

Book 3

  1. What does Achille's dream return to the Nigeria of the Yoruba represent? What do we learn of him?
  2. Why does he long for the future?
  3. Why is the future history of enslavement important?
  4. What connection does Achille see between the Christmas dance and his African ancestry?
  5. Why does Walcott include Helen's fantasy and his own incarnation as Circe's swine?
  6. Why is it significant that Achille should think about the buffalo soldiers and make connections to U.S.history?
  7. What does Achille learn about the Caribbean past?
  8. Why does Walcott include the scene with his mother?

Book 4

  1. Why does Walcott include his own divorce and the curse on homes?
  2. What connection does Walcott draw between his visit to the trail of tears in the United States and his culture's past?
  3. What is the significance of Weldon as a figure?
  4. What does Walcott learn in the museum and in Boston in general? See Winslow Homer's The Gulf Stream below:
    The Gulf Stream
  5. Why does Walcott's father appear to him again?

Book 5

  1. What does Walcott conclude about the colonial past of Lisbon as compared to its present?
  2. Why is Omeros turned away in London?
  3. How does he describe the imperial myth of London?
  4. Why are Dublin and Joyce important to Walcott's journey?
  5. Why does Walcott encounter Odysseus and his crew?
  6. How does Walcott react to Istanbul, Venice, and Rome?
  7. What is the significance of meeting Nina the polish waitress?
  8. What are Weldon's conclusions about the ghost dance? How are they reflective of Walcott's views?

Book 6

  1. What is the impact of Hector's death on the other characters?
  2. Why does Ma Kilman have to discover Philoctete's cure in the way she does?
  3. What is the significance of that cure?
  4. What do we learn about Plunkett and Hector in their exchange?
  5. What is important about Maud's funeral? What about Walcott and Plunkett's encounter in the bank?

Book 7

  1. How would you characterize Walcott's encounter with Omeros in book seven?
  2. How would you characterize the ferryman, the damned souls, Hector's own purgatory?
  3. What does Walcott learn about history and St' Lucia?
  4. Why do Achille and Philoctete try to find a new home? Why is it important that they fail?
  5. Why does the Major encounter Maud's ghost?
  6. What do the final chapters conclude about the epic project?