Toxic Relationship with America

In Claude McKay’s poem, “America”, we can see how the author is in a complicated relationship with America. He explains the fact that he feels challenged with America, even though he loves her so much but it’s still a toxic relationship for him. In some of the lines he explains the fact that there are tides in his blood. For example “Her vigor flows like tides into my blood” explains the fact that America is a part of his body and he can’t get rid of her out of his system because he loves America so much to the point where he can’t get rid of her. In class, we all came to a conclusion where we all believed this whole situation was a toxic relationship, where they would hate each other but even if they hate each other it doesn’t stop him from loving her though. In this quote, also explains how he feels about America, “I love this cultured hell that tests my youth” he basically saying that he loves America so much but even though he hates her, it’s more like an hate and love relationship. America could be a great thing but could also be a horrible thing so it’s really an in-between love for it, so this poem is very understanding and has a deep meaning into it.

3 thoughts on “Toxic Relationship with America

  1. Hi John!
    I enjoyed reading your take on Claude McKay’s poem, “America”, and having more of an understanding. I love how we all agreed and somehow the class was going through it when Professor. Eversley, when she compared it to that toxic love, we don’t need but want. In the quote, “I love this cultured hell that tests my youth” he basically saying that he loves America so much but even though he hates her, it’s more like a hate and love relationship. As I continue to read over the lines from “America”, I can connect it more and visualize the struggle Claude McKay is going through. Thank you for sharing your insight!

    Best,
    Elizabeth Bogomolnyy

  2. I enjoyed what you had to say about the poem. I think we can all agree that the line that sticks out the most and helps to immediately develop a clear understanding of the message being said is “I love this cultured hell that tests my youth”. This toxic relationship with America is amplified through his words and really shows how deep the meaning behind this poem is. What speaks volume is the fact that we all crave something we don’t need but want even if it is bad for us. Claude McKay is definitely in a toxic relationship with America but has no intent on leaving.

  3. That line, “I love this cultured hell that tests my youth,” really piqued my interest as well. It reminded me of what perhaps many young people feel about New York today. Professor Eversley has discussed in class her own struggles of the NY grind and I feel that many of us can relate as commuter students as well. This is such a tough and unforgiving city, yet there is no place with the culture and opportunity that New York has.

    On a larger scale, I feel as though McKay’s feelings towards America are still relevant today. There are so many of us that America excludes from her “dream” that she is a “cultured hell” for us too. It’s interesting how McKay’s feelings can echo into our own political experience today.

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