Al Purdy, “Lament for the Dorsets”

  1. Purdy suggests two possible causes for the destruction of the Dorsets. What are they? Was the disappearance for the Dorsets inevitable?
  2. What similarities does Purdy suggest between the Dorsets and modern man? Does modern man have similar interests and reactions? In what ways do the two cultures differ?
  3. Were the Dorsets victims of progress? How would you define progress?
  4. Why do you suppose Purdy chose a swan as a subject for Kudluk’s carving? Does the swan suggest qualities of Kudluk’s mind that would not be suggested by a polar bear or a walrus or a seal? In what sense does one of Kudluk’s thoughts turn to ivory?
  5. What meaning does “After 600 years/the ivory thought/ is still warm” suggest to you? In what sense do the Dorsets still live?
  6. In one well-written paragraph explain why Purdy “laments” the passing of the Dorsets.