Essay on Varying Definitions of 'America' in American Literature

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Varying Definitions of 'America' in American Literature

Denotations and connotations inherent in the word "America" in different works of American literature have a number of similarities and differences. Often, the definition of the word is not known at the beginning of a work and one of the thematic elements is the search for the true "America," whatever it may be for the author in question. Many American authors raise the question, "What is America?" and go about answering it in their own way. This is, perhaps, the only common element across the great variety of works in the collective body of American literature, that "America" means different things to different authors, and that one of the beautiful aspects of
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The repetition of corn in the song lends to the image of America the role of a provider of sustenance, which is part of its beauty.

This is very similar to the poetry and ideas contained in the poetry of Walt Whitman. Whitman often lists different things in a repetitive manner, such as in the song above. For example, in "I Sing the Body Electric," Whitman lists just about every body part he can think of.

Mouth, tongue, lips, teeth, roof of the mouth, jaws, and the jaw-hinges,

. . .

Broad breast-front, curling hair of the breast, breast-bone, breast-side,

. . .

All attitudes, all the shapeliness, all the belongings of my or your body or of any one's body, male or female,

In so doing, he achieves the same sense of the universal that was achieved in the Navajo song. Moreover, his purpose in listing each of the body parts is to examine their beauty. "That of the male is perfect, and that of the female is perfect." By creating this sense of the universal he identifies his own body with the bodies of everyone living in America and the world with him, and so is speaking for all of America. Thus, America is, again, a living creature with its own body parts, all of which are beautiful and worthy of reverence.

This idea is again repeated a hundred years later in the

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