Friday, May 5, 2017

Let America Be America Again : Overview of America - Parts 1-4


WHEN WE THINK OF AMERICA
When one mentions America, many different thoughts and ideas come into mind. Democracy and the idea of freedom is a main focal point in my view of America. It plays such a large role in not only my life but the lives of every other American. Natural born rights and the freedom to live in the "pursuit of happiness" is another topic which stands out from the rest. There are so many different options of friends, employment, and culture presented to every American. Most of all, however, I tend to first think of religion and the different organizations connected to each religion. For every scandal seen or heard on the news, there are multiple freedoms or values in which every American, including myself, can be proud.

I gathered with a large group of people with a common goal. I was living the First Amendment as I used my right to assembly along with my right to freedom of speech.

My natural born rights are very important to me. I hear the phrase "pursuit of happiness" and think of my grandparents moving here from England. They had a dream of finding a better life in America. There are so many opportunities for immigrants that it is hard not to want to move here. My grandfather made his living fighting in the United States Navy and working on the Ford Motor assembly line. He lived the "American Dream" I have heard so much of throughout history. I think of how working on an assembly line could be thought of as a dream. But as my grandfather has told me so many times, he was filled with such pride after seeing every car built. He knew that he had helped make such a beautiful and long lasting American product. I tend to think if I will have that same pride in my work. There is such great opportunity and freedom for me to do anything I want in the future. I have every possibility set forth right in front of me and all I need is to work hard. I am always overjoyed to think of everything I can and may do later in my lifetime. 

THE AMERICAN DREAM
American Dream is "that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.


 

Let America Be America Again is a poem by Langston Hughes. Written in 1935, it was published in the July 1936 issue of Esquire Magazine. The poem is an account of the American Dream, that, according to Hughes, never occurred. It also delves into issues of equality and freedom. The poem not only focuses on African-Americans and their struggles, but also the economically disadvantaged and immigrants who suffer from social bias and unfair treatment.

The poem touches various issues and events that were prominent at the time. It reaches out to various sectors in the American society, and talks about their condition in their circumstances. Hughes, through this poem, yearns for the America it once was. The one that exists only in dreams. A short summary with a brief analysis of the poem has being presented in the following paragraphs.



Summary

The poem begins with the narrator declaring that America should be America again. The narrator seeks an America of dreams, an America where everyone could be free. Though, the narrator says that America was never America to him. He insists on letting America being the way it was originally intended of being. This version of America is a land where love prevails. It is not a place where tyranny and crime exists. Again, the narrator states that an America where the above things are not in existence was never America to him.

He then talks about the land being a 'Land of Liberty', in its true sense; where the concept of liberty is not dressed and disguised under patriotism. Yet, these things, he says, have never come across to him.

A different voice (who has not being specified) comes in and expresses wonderment over who the actual narrator is, and questions his mumbling.

In response to this, the original narrator says that he is the poor white man, the 'Negro' who bears the scars of slavery, the 'Indian' who has been driven away from his land, the 'Immigrant' who has held on to a hope that the weak shall someday rise above the powerful. Yet, all he finds is the same old approach of 'dog eat dog' and of the 'mighty crushing the weak'.

He goes on further to add that he is a young man full of hope, who is stuck in the ancient structure where profit making and power through monetary gains is the only thing that matters. He says he is a farmer, a worker, a Negro. He is the people, who, despite their struggles, are hopeful.'

The narrator claims that he dreamed of a free land, while still under the oppressive king of the 'Old World'. The dream was so strong and felt so true that it has driven him and other people to build it brick by brick. He says that he and his people have left the dark lands of Ireland, Poland, and England; they were torn away from their land in Africa. So, they built this 'homeland of the free' themselves.

With a pause, the narrator again questions: 'The free? He remembers again, stating that he could have said 'free'. Not in a land where millions on relief have been shot down, millions who can barely survive and meet their basic needs. All these people, who have nothing left but the 'dream that is almost dead today'. He cries out to all those who sweat and blood, their faith and pain into making America. He appeals to them to build the America they dream of.

He isn't resentful about being called ugly names, as he demands freedom from the 'leeches' that live on people's lives, and appeals that we take our land back. He says out loud, that even if America was never of his dreams, he is determined to make it so. He declares that America should be risen out of the death, rape, and lies. The country needs to redeem its rivers, lands, mines, and all natural beauty. Only then will America be America again.



Analysis


Throughout the poem, Hughes puts forth contrasting phrases which surface his hopes for a better America as against to the ones which show the crude reality that is taking place around him. The literary device used in the telling of the poem is pretty much a proclamation to the reader; almost as if trying to awaken the reader. The dramatic element of dialog has also been a device that is used pretty effectively, and its effect can be felt at the time when a different voice jumps in and questions these proclamations.

The poem begins with Hughes' appeal of letting America be the America it once was. Yet, he points out that this image of America has always been nonexistent. America has been a place of slavery, poverty, oppression, and lies. The tone of the lines depicting these truths is that of anger, followed by hopefulness. This structure suggests his holding on to hope, and his dreams of getting to see America the way he always wanted to.

The poem has been narrated in first person, with a dialog form breaking in the middle. This part questions the authority that is voicing all these concerns over America and its issues. As an answer, his narration gets more dramatic in its telling. The people being talked about are specific, and the issues raised are acute.

Various literary devices have been employed in the poem in different stanzas. Rhyme is used in lines 2 and 4 with words 'be' and 'free'; in lines 6 and 8 with words 'dreamed' and 'schemed'; so on and so forth. Strong metaphors, like in the line 'I am the worker sold to the machine', produces a strong effect and imagery of the struggles the worker undergoes.

The most powerful and hopeful proclamation comes towards the end of the poem, where the narrator cries to all sufferers and asks them to rise up against the current circumstances, and strive to build the America of their dreams. He believes that America can be improved, ending the poem on a high and optimistic note.



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