What Is The Theme Of America By Tony Hoagland

812 Words 4 Pages
Contemporary writing is one of my favorite styles of writing as it is an approach that forces the reader to think critically about a topic as it questions everything about our culture, values, and various forms of art. One contemporary piece that especially intrigued me while studying this period was “America” written by Tony Hoagland due to the simple yet powerful questions that it raises about American life. It is an interesting commentary on how American society has begun to put money ahead of everything yet this lifestyle does not yield happiness and in fact has incarcerated us within a materialistic culture. It initially begins as what appears to be a punk-rock type teenager with a tongue ring complaining to his teacher about how America …show more content…
In my life I have judged people by their appearance and been judged just like the teacher and the student but the fact that the teacher eventually sees past the students appearance makes me hopeful of the future. The teacher begins to see the truth within the teen’s words when he remembers a dream he had of his father dying in his arms after being stabbed by his son while gushing out hundred dollar bills. The father exclaims “Thank god—those Ben Franklins were / Clogging up my heart” in order to communicate to his son that his greed and materialism has lead him to an unfulfilled life and if the teacher takes the same road he too will lead an unfulfilling life. This dream of his father widens our perspective as we now have insight on three different generations rather than just the teacher’s and student’s generations. Seeing that the generation before the teacher regrets their life of greed brings the teacher back to the idea that corporations and consumerism have robbed the average American of their freedom as now they must live within walls that “are made of RadioShacks and Burger Kings, and MTV episodes” and are impossible to …show more content…
He believes that big business is promoting greed and is changing the American public’s priorities for the worse by encouraging the rise of materialism. The student creates a metaphor for how corporations have silenced the voice of the individual by using one of the most American images of a quilt. Quilts have been very popular in American history especially in the poor and rural parts of the country and the author uses this traditional American blanket to represent the tool that corporate materialism is using to subdue and silence the idealistic American individual. While this student makes an extremely valid and influential point the author raises another valid question that should not be ignored which is “if this is a legitimate category of pain.” This one simple line is a significant reason why I resonate with this poem. I often ponder whether or not the America we live in today is a place that is truly land of the free as consumerism and corporate greed have begun to shape America and kill the importance of an individual. However just as the teacher questioned, I am unsure if this is truly something to be complaining about as even though we have to live within a fixed system does this compare to the experience that

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