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Discuss McKays poem America.

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Introduction

America Claude McKay In the 1920's many African Americans compromised themselves by conforming to the ideals of many white Americans. Segregation in schools, buses and neighborhoods were all common place, many African Americans excepted these terms for the sole purpose of living their lives as happily as they can within the confounds of society. There were a number people who challenged these beliefs and ideals; some were forceful in their ways and others who were more discreet with their form of protest and opinion. Claude McKay challenges the ideals in his poem "America" by writing in the traditional form, not separating himself from what is considered the mainstream. McKay's poem "America" is written in the traditional format. If McKay was to write his poem in the non-traditional sense, he would be immediately separating himself from other authors with his unorthodox style. Before the poem is examined the reader will make a judgment based on the style of the poem, overshadowing the meaning the author intended. ...read more.

Middle

McKay in this passage is deconstructing the traditional vision of America being a cultural melting pot and is an example of how McKay discussed his position as a black American living in the 1920's. Another important aspect to examine in this poem is who the speaker is and more importantly how the subject is portrayed in the poem. In this poem America is portrayed as a mother figure. The opening line of the poem explains how "she feeds me" (line 1) suggesting a motherly figure. The mother of a child, for the most part, does not feed her child "bread of bitterness" (line 1). This portion suggests that the motherly figure only gives the child what it needs to survive; representing black Americans inequality. The country keeps them alive, but it only provides them with what the others do not want, "the bitter bread." The speaker in the poem America is another tool McKay uses to his advantage. Portions of the poem are more personal than others, while other portions seem to be a public voice. ...read more.

Conclusion

He view is an positive one, "Beneath the touch of Time's unerring hand,/ Like priceless treasures sinking in the sand." (Line 13-14) McKay capitalized the word time; the emphasizing this particular word gives it an added meaning. McKay is ensuring that the reader is aware of the meaning of the word. To often time is forgotten or goes unnoticed, but time is truly in charge of everyone. The use of time in this poem is to make the reader aware that with time everything will heal, those who are powerful will fall, like the Greek and Roman Empires. In line 14, McKay reminds the reader that time will also change what people feel, something they may have found important in the past will change in the future. The comparison he gives is one of a treasure that is lost in the sand; although it is precious time has slowly taken it away. McKay was able to demonstrate his point very well, and without the use of the obvious tool of changing his format. He explored various other aspects in order to get his message across to his reader. Carmen Sirianni 1 ...read more.

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