Claude Mckay, a Dialectical Analysis Essay

1444 Words May 19th, 2013 6 Pages
Claude McKay & Dialectical Analysis

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
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Someone working these fields could relate to the pride and craftsmanship that takes to plow in a straight line, or work through the rough Earth. This reading can be taken another step further. It’s not common for a fire to simply catch a town, and for a Negro reading the poem, they may see it as a call to rebel and actually set a town ablaze as vengeance against white society. A rebellion such as setting a rich town ablaze would not be unheard of in a communist state, and it might be a call to arms for Jamaican Negros reading the poems in “Songs of Jamaica”.
Undeniably, there appears to be a lexicon for violence in the poem that may be entirely glossed over by a white, European reader. “Although the vine is little, it can bear. It wishes for nothing but a little care. You see potato tearing up the ground, you run. You laughing, you must think it’s fun” (McKay 16-20). As stated earlier, a European audience may feel this is simply Quashie denouncing that his work is difficult, and that he’s just announcing his woes in a silly way, and that the whole thing just merrily amuses the white plantation owner. However, if you choose to look at this through the perspective of a Negro who is craving to break free of their oppressors, it can have an entirely different reading. Quashie planting seeds can be seen as planting the seeds of an uprising. The imagery of potatoes coming up from the ground seems comical at first, but if you’re an

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