Lyrics and discussion questions for "Subdivisions" by Rush

Sprawling on the fringes of the city
In geometric order, an insulated border
In between the bright lights and the far unlit unknown

Growing up it all seems so one-sided
Opinions all provided, the future pre-decided
Detached and subdivided in the mass production zone
Nowhere is the dreamer or the misfit so alone

In the high school halls
In the shopping malls
Conform or be cast out
In the basement bars
In the backs of cars
Be cool or be cast out

Any escape might help to smooth the unattractive truth
But the suburbs have no charms to soothe the restless dreams of youth

Drawn like moths we drift into the city
The timeless old attraction, cruising for the action
Lit up like a firefly just to feel the living night

Some will sell their dreams for small desires
Or lose the race to rats, get caught in ticking traps
And start to dream of somewhere to relax their restless flight
Somewhere out of a memory of lighted streets on quiet nights

Questions for Discussion and Writing

1. Consider multiple meanings and connotations of the word subdivisions. In what ways do the lyrics reflect these meanings? Discuss specific examples.

2. Discuss the suburban world described in the song. What are its defining characteristics?

3. According to the lyrics and perhaps your own readings and personal experiences, in what ways are the lives of suburban residents subject to external control? Discuss the significance of lines 4-6 in connection with this issue.

4. Why do you think “dreamers and misfits” are so alone in the suburban world? What does it lack that makes it unable to “soothe the restless dreams of youth” (line 17)?

5. How are high school halls, shopping malls, basement bars, and backs of cars (lines 9-14) related? Explain.

6. Who are the people described in lines 21-24? In what ways might they “sell their dreams for small desires” and “get caught in ticking traps”? What are the “rats” a reference to? What do these people often end up deciding to do?

7. Why are people drawn to the city, and why are they drawn to the suburbs?

8. From what point of view and in what voice(s) is the song written? Why do you think the songwriter chose this approach to the subject?

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Questions © 2018 C. Brantley Collins, Jr.