In Claude McKay’s, “Old England” and “Quashie to Buccra” McKay uses dialect as a way to give poems multiple meanings. What may be seen as a simplistic or naïve poem about Jamaican life may actually be full of double meanings that only a select audience would be able to identify. In his poem’s, McKay ultimately gives Negros who work under white colonists the underlying message of black resistance by revolution.
Perhaps what makes this interpretation so convincing is the background of the author. McKay was born Sunny Ville Jamaica as the youngest of 11 sons. While in Jamaica, McKay wrote “Songs of Jamaica”, which is where “Quashie to Buccra” is derived from. In this time, he also became a self…show more content… In actuality, the poem can be seen by Negros as a way to criticize the white plantation owner and in fact plant the seeds of rebellion.
Indeed, the title of the work itself leads credence to it being veiled in double meaning. While a white, European in the high rungs of the social ladder may read the poem as a simple address of worker to plantation owner. However, a Negro experiencing the strife of Quashie, the black peasant worker who produces sweet potatoes in the poem, may relate to the unfairness of they experience from the Buccra, which is the white man being addressed in the poem. Indeed, McKay points out in the poem, “You taste the potato, and you say it’s sweet, but you don’t know how hard we work for it” (McKay 2). Buccra even attempts to haggle for a lower price, further showing he doesn’t understand the work that goes into farming the sweet potatoes, “You want a basketful fe quattiewut” (McKay 3). Not only does this demonstrate the Buccra’s insensitivity to the work that goes into the harvest, but it shows he’s greedy and milking the natives for every last sixpence.
A white reader may look at the reading as Quashie simply complaining about his hard work, “The sun is hot like when fire catches a town” (McKay 9). In reality, Quashie would do this work even if he