That Poetry Thing
A Foundation for Pre-AP classes
“No Difference” by Shel Silverstein
Small as a peanut,
Big as a giant,
We’re all the same size
When we turn off the light
Rich as a sultan,
Poor as a mite,
We’re all worth the same
When we turn off the light.
Red, black or orange,
Yellow or white
We all look the same
When we turn off the light
So maybe the way
To make everything right
Is for God to just reach out
And turn off the light!
• 1. Read the title
• No Difference
• 2. Predict what you
think the title might
• I think the title will
compare two things
that alike.
• 1. Read the poem
(twice if you have the
• 2. Rewrite the poem
into your own words
focusing on what the
poem SAYS.
• Shel Silverstein uses 4
stanzas to explain that
people are the same no
matter their size,
economic status, or
color. He also implies
that the true equalizer is
God’s turning off of the
• 1. Analyze poem for
literary devices (all that
“Englishy” stuff)
• 2. Break smaller pieces of
the poem down to look for
additional meanings
A rhyming poem in nearly abcb rhyme scheme,
“No Difference” is written in quatrains and relies
heavily on similies to compare differences in
human beings. Silverstein uses contrasting ideas
such as “peanut” and “giant”, as well as “sultan”
and “mite” to illustrate the extremes of the
human condition. His usage and repetition of
“turn off the light” infers looking the same and
being worth the same in the dark. That can have
several meanings. It could mean that in the dark
we are the same because people cannot “see”, or
judge one another. It could mean that
“darkness”, or suffering (the absence of God’s
light) could be the great equalizer of humanity.
Silverstein’s last stanza about God turning the
light off on people to set the world right could
mean either God encouraging us to gather in the
darkness more often, or it could mean God’s
permanently pulling the plug on humanity.
• 1. How does the narrator
of the poem feel about
the subject?
• 2. How does the writer
feel about the subject of
the poem?
• The narrator of the poem
clearly believes that all
human are essentially the
same regardless of money,
race or physical appearance.
In this poem I believe the
narrator and the writer
harbor the same attitude
toward the equality of
• 1. Identify shifts in the poem
(subject, tone, speaker or
• The first three quatrains of the
poem are all similar in the tone
and structure – serving to describe
people and their equality. The last
stanza, however, shifts to a more
moralistic viewpoint. It doesn’t
just describe how people are the
same, but what God should do
about making right the injustices
of humanity.
• 1. What is the point, or
universal meaning that
the writer is discussing?
• Shel Silverstein expresses a
common theme of the
equality of people.
Silverstein uses opposites to
illustrate differences, then
repeats “turn off the light”
to infer that humans are the
• Identify tone using
DIDLS or tone lists
and cite evidence
from the text
• Silverstein uses a
child-like tone, as
expressed by his
simple wording use of
subjects that children
usually use for
judgment such as
rich/poor, big/small
• 1. Examine the title
• 2. How can you now
interpret the poem?
• The title now obviously
refers to the differences
in humanity and that the
author sees no
differences in the value
of people regardless of
social status.