English 106, Spring 2012
Paper 2: Poetry Response
The American Dream, what is it? Is it realistic? Can everyone attain it? These are some questions that depending on your culture and ethnicity could be answered differently. Imagine being in a culture where the American dream was not attainable due to the color of your skin or the way you looked. Many Americans feel that the American dream is that of money, houses, and cars. For many it is kindness, family and love. Even if your dream is merely to be comfortable with a roof over your head and food on the table, other people’s racism, anger and hatred can stop even the simplest of American dreams. “Harlem Hopscotch” by Maya Angelou (740) is a metaphor for the constant struggles young African American children had to deal with while trying to fit into a white man’s society. Reading this poem in 2012, I can see the humor and sarcasm Angelou has put into this poem. Lines such as, “Another jump to the left everybody for hisself” reveals an image of a white man’s superiority and ignorance to others needs. “Since you black don’t stick around. Food is gone and rent is due, curse and cry and then jump two” There is such humor in this line about the struggles that African Americans went through and in some areas are still going through. For a strong African American who was trying to get out from behind the white man’s shadow; the visual of all the hoops that they would have to go through to get to the front of the line is impressive. This poem reveals a tone of depression in which the African American could not get out into the white man’s world. In contrast the poem, “Lower New York at dawn” (907), shows us the struggle that many ethnic races face while at the bottom of the working ladder. It talks of a city of sin and “deep debauchery”. The greed of the rich overpowers others leaving the daylight to reveal itself as “ghastly and harsh, another day bringing dull dreadful labor”. This...
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