So as I was reading this I was real confused at why in the world everything that embraced that one school died. Those poor children probably had no hope for anything. The poem seems like it's trying to capture the audience and give them a perspective of life maybe? Everything that they tried to take care of died. The salamander, the puppy, the trees, the tropical fish, Matthew and Tony, their parents...where did they all go? The poem might be trying to tell us that you need to appreciate what you have. I'm just not really sure where Barthelme was going with this. At the end the children wanted the teacher to make love with Miss Helen, the teaching assistant. That kind of threw me off guard with the events that were happening in the poem. Was Barthelme trying to add in a positive environment for the students by placing love into the school. Because once the relationship between the teacher and Miss Helen sparked a gerbil appeared. So if their was a positive environment in the classroom all the time, then would things in the room stay alive?