If We Must Die Claude Mckay Analysis

561 Words 3 Pages
In and around the 1920’s, black culture was rising in popularity, but racial equality was not a common theme in the majority of societies. In the 1919 poem, “If We Must Die,” author Claude McKay displays the significant social gap between blacks and whites. McKay does this by comparing man and they way they fight with animals as well as using separate pronouns for blacks and whites throughout the poem. Claude McKay demonstrates the distinct social gap between blacks and whites by comparing both them and their societal roles to animals. In the opening lines of the poem, McKay sets up the comparison of humans to animals. He writes, “If we must die – let it not be like hogs / Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot, / While round us bark the …show more content…
When shifting his focus in the poem from informational to showing defiance, McKay declares, “Oh, Kinsmen! We must meet the common foe!” (l. 9). The separation between races continues throughout McKay’s work. The use of the pronoun “we” along with “Kinsmen” shows great unity throughout the black community. McKay’s word choice also shows that they, oppressed black men, all will, or should, stand and fight together for the greater good. However, the unity displayed is only among black men, not between black and white. The white men are seen as the enemy, which is a drastic difference from the the unity that McKay calls for. The racial gap is significant, and to close it would require large efforts from both sides. Shortly after expressing unity, McKay continues with the contrasting use of pronouns as he writes, “Though far outnumbered, let us show us brave, / And for their thousand blows deal one deathblow!” (l. 10-11). Again, the racial difference is modeled using the pronouns “us” and “their.” McKay knows that black men are outnumbered and have a disadvantage in their fight for equality. However, he shows that strength in numbers can be effective and they will take advantage of that in the fight for

Related Documents