This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

America, By Claude Mc Kay Essay

1341 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, only to find out that at this time equality for blacks does not exist. It is written for fellow black men, in an effort to make them understand that the American dream is not something to abandon hope in, but something to fight for. The struggle of putting up with the racist mistreatment is evident even in the first four lines:
“Although she feeds me bread of bitterness,
And sinks into my throat her tiger's tooth,
Stealing my breath of life,
I will confess I love this cultured hell that tests my youth.” (McKay)

These lines express quite graphically that the relationship between young black immigrants and America, is what would be referred to as a “love/hate” relationship.
Though dealing with the situation is difficult, the poem goes on to express that going through this ordeal has only strengthened the resolve of the African American community. Lines 4-9 of this poem speak to toughness and resolve of the African American community in the fight to gain equality. McKay even goes as far as to compare his situation, with that of a rebel, challenging a king. He talks about facing the battle to change the direction of the country, and how he is facing this challenge with no fear. 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...

Find Another Essay On America, by Claude McKay

Claude McKay's Harlem Shadows Essay

1379 words - 6 pages masquerade began as members of the white race tried to pass as black and during that experience gain some satisfaction from their own lost and confused existence.      Claude McKay was unique in style and tone, yet still followed the other artists by topic. The exotic in Claude McKay's "Harlem Shadows" is apparent. McKay is developing the exotic throughout the text and saying that black exoticism is the only way that Africans can survive in

An Understanding of The White House and I, Too, Sing, America

979 words - 4 pages During the Harlem Renaissance, both Claude McKay and Langston Hughes developed an analysis of their time period through poetry. Each writer has a different poem but allude to the same theme. The White House by Claude McKay and I, Too, Sing, America by Langston Hughes makes a relevant comparison to the racial inequality during the 1900s. Both make a point about how White America has withheld equal rights from Blacks or Black America, making it

Usage of the Outsider Theme in Claude McKay's Poetry

790 words - 3 pages Usage of the Outsider Theme in Claude McKay's Poetry Claude McKay was an important figure during the 1920's in the Harlem Rennaisance. Primarily a poet, McKay used the point of view of the outsider as a prevalent theme in his works. This is best observed in such poems as "Outcast," "America," and "The White House." In these poems, McKay portrays the African-American as the outsiderof western society and its politics and laws and at

Characteristics of The Harlem Renaissance in the Works of Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, and Claude McKay

1516 words - 6 pages shows inequality, as the crimes that were committed by blacks were initially not crimes if a white person were to commit them; for example, the Jim Crow laws. Most of McKay’s poetry confronted the authority of white people in America (“Claude” 1), especially his poem “If We Must Die” which is an extremely aggressive poem about how McKay feels blacks should stand up for themselves and not let whites tell them what to do as they are just as capable

Creative Movement, Harlem Renaissance, Helped Black People Express Themselves

1327 words - 5 pages Americans were pleased find that they were able to express themselves through art, literature, and music. This creative movement was known as the Harlem Renaissance. The Great Migration influenced the Harlem Renaissance because it led African Americans to northern cities where they gathered together and made amazing creative achievements. Writers like Claude McKay expressed the feelings that all African Americans felt about discrimination in America

Journey to the Harlem Renaissance

1333 words - 5 pages Literature: Fifth Course. Austin: Holt, 1989. 706 Callahan, John F. “A Long Way From Home”: The Art and Protest of Claude McKay and James Baldwin.” Contemporary Literature 34.4 (1993): 783-785. Countee Cullen. 7 Feb. 2002 Hampson, Thomas. I Hear America Singing. 7 Feb. 2002 Jackson, Steven. Father of Jazz. 14 Feb. 2002 http

The Tool of Hate

983 words - 4 pages On the surface, hate is a representation of extreme dislike. However, hatred is much more than this; hate is a passion that grows and blossoms inside someone as anger until it reaches its final form. The poems “America” and “The White City” by Claude McKay convey the complex experiences and feelings of African Americans in America in the early 1900s (Arp and Johnson 253, 254). In both of these poems, McKay demonstrates this feeling of hatred

The Harlem Renaissance: The New Negro Movement

1233 words - 5 pages other examples of Cullen’s work is; Heritage, Uncle Jim, Tableau, and Saturday’s Child. Countee Cullen died on January 10, 1946. Claude McKay was a poet that was before Langston Hughes and Countee Cullen. He was born in Jamaica in 1890 and by 1912 he had two collections of his poetry published, Songs of Jamaica and Constab Ballads. McKay moved to New York in 1917 where he mastered the sonnet form of poetry and published “The Harlem Dancer” and


1315 words - 5 pages been colonized. Postcolonialism pays particular attention to the response of the oppressed, which can be both radical and subtle. Claude McKay, a Jamaican-American poet, wrote “America” during the Harlem Renaissance, and although it was before the postcolonial movement, it exemplifies many postcolonial ideas. “America” deals heavily with the dual ideas of love and hate. In the first four lines of the poem, the narrator shows his extreme distaste

The Harlem Renaissance

927 words - 4 pages Negro Movement. “He provided the movement with a manifesto when he skillfully argued the need for both race pride and artistic independence in his most memorable essay, ‘The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain’” (Modern American Poetry). Hughes was inspired by earlier poets in the movement such as Claude McKay. McKay directed his poetry to the lower-class, urban, African-Americans. His most famous work is his sonnet that was quoted by

A Raisin in the Sun: The Duality of African-America, George Murchison and Joseph Asagai

1430 words - 6 pages and Nellie Y. McKay. The Norton Anthology of African American Literature. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2004. 832. Print. McKay, Claude. "The Tropics in New York by Claude McKay." The Poetry Foundation. Web. 28 Oct. 2011.

Similar Essays

The Harlem Riot In Harlem Runs Wild By Claude Mc Kay

638 words - 3 pages The Harlem Riot in Harlem Runs Wild by Claude McKay In Harlem Runs Wild, Claude McKay depicts the Harlem Riot of 1935 as merely "…a gesture of despair of a bewildered, baffled, and disillusioned people." (McKay 224) The Harlem Riot of 1935 was spontaneous and unpremeditated. It was not a race riot in the sense of physical conflict between white and non-white groups as there was little direct violence to white persons. McKay states

Analysis Of Long Distance By Tony Harrison, I Shall Return And The Barrier By Claude Mc Kay

2191 words - 9 pages Analysis of Long Distance by Tony Harrison, I Shall Return and The Barrier by Claude McKay These poems will be compared by the theme, Poetic devices and structure of the poems. Harrison's Long Distance explores the theme of death of loved ones within a family triangle. Most of Harrison's poetry focuses on his life, such as his working class childhood and family life. Similarly, in Claude McKay's The Barrier, the

A Harlem Mans Yearning Essay

963 words - 4 pages A Harlem Man’s Yearning       The Harlem Renaissance was a time in our nations history when a new kind of insurgency developed. In this era, African Americans were for the first time considered artists, not just Negroes. In the midst of all of this was Claude McKay. Born and raised in the tropics of Jamaica, Claude grew up in a very accepting society. However, moving to America he experienced first hand the harsh

The Life And Times Of Claude Mc Kay

2753 words - 11 pages The life and Writings of Claude McKay Introduction      Every literary period can be defined by a group of writers. For the Harlem Renaissance, which was an extraordinary eruption of creativity among Black Americans in all fields of art, Claude McKay was the leader. Claude McKay was a major asset to the Harlem Renaissance with his contributions of such great pieces of writings such as “If We Must Die” and “The