America, by Claude McKay Essay

1103 Words 5 Pages
The poem America by Claude McKay is on its surface a poem combining what America should be and what this country stands for, with what it actually is, and the attitude it projects amongst the people. Mckay uses the form of poetry to express how he, as a Jamaican immigrant, feels about America. He characterizes the bittersweet relationship between striving for the American dream, and being denied that dream due to racism. While the America we are meant to see is a beautiful land of opportunity, McKay see’s as an ugly, flawed, system that crushes the hopes and dreams of the African-American people. This poem is written from the perspective of an African-American from a foreign country, who has come to America for the promise of equality, …show more content…
The lines state:
“Her vigor flows like tides into my blood,
Giving me strength erect against her hate,
Her bigness sweeps my being like a flood.
Yet, as a rebel fronts a king in state,
I stand within her walls with not a shred
Of terror, malice, not a word of jeer.” (McKay)
To take these lines a little further, this author finds it intriguing that Mckay uses the history of America to voice his outrage at the injustice. To Americans, a rebel is a powerful figure, after all it was a group of rebels who defied the king of England in order to gain independence. Fighting against a tyrannical power to gain independence; at their very core, the ideals are the same. McKay uses Americas very history as a powerful eye opener against the injustice against the African American community, which is the same in context to the injustice America’s founding fathers faced when building this country.
Towards the end of the poem McKay unveils the “silver lining” so to speak. He begins talking about the future and how he hopes for a better America, as the old America slowly fades out. He touches on the values of America, referring to equality, justice, and true freedom, and very subtly refers to them as “Granite Wonders." The use of these words really impacts his belief in the future, as granite is something hard, strong, and immovable. Mckay certainly believes that America was built on a
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