Lyrics and discussion questions for the song "Indifference" by Pearl Jam

Click here for a YouTube playlist that includes a live acoustic version of the song with Ben Harper.

I will light the match this morning so I won’t be alone
Watch as she lies silent, for soon night will be gone
Oh I will stand arms outstretched, pretend I’m free to roam
Oh I will make my way through one more day in hell

How much difference does it make?
How much difference does it make?

I will hold the candle till it burns up my arm
Oh I’ll keep takin’ punches until their will grows tired
Oh I will stare the sun down until my eyes go blind
Hey, I won’t change direction, and I won’t change my mind

How much difference does it make?
How much difference does it make?

I’ll swallow poison, until I grow immune
I will scream my lungs out till it fills this room

How much difference?
How much difference does it make?

Questions for Discussion and Writing

1. What rhetorical device is used in the song’s chorus? What do you think the purpose of this device is? How does it relate to the song’s title and to the verses?

2. What kind of situation is the speaker apparently in, and what attitude does he seem to have toward this situation? Discuss specific examples in the lyrics.

3. Why do you think the speaker declares his intention to do self-destructive things like “stare the sun down until [his] eyes go blind” (line 9)?

4. Discuss the use of metaphor and symbolism in the song. What abstract meanings might many of the concrete images in the song represent? Analyze specific examples in the context of the song as a whole.

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Questions © 2018 C. Brantley Collins, Jr.

For my interpretation of the lyrics, read my blog post Thoughts on a Song: “Indifference” by Pearl Jam.