April 14, 2014
Tony Hoagland points out in his poem “America” that our country has been taken over by commercialism and the constant advertisements on cable television. To me, the theme is that in our country, money is always put first and is the most important thing yet it will never truly bring happiness to a lot of people. Greed, capitalism, and consumerism really take over the theme also, which brings us to Hoagland’s use of metaphors, allegory, repetition, symbolism, and irony to show how our country is so consumed by the commercialism. The setting in this poem is also in one of the most American places in the country, which to me was very ironic considering the complaint about the consumerism, showing the irony. The poem, beginning in an unrhymed couplet, starts out with the metaphor “students with blue hair and a tongue stud”. The so called “students” in this poem are typically innocent people who are corrupted by our youth, hence the blue hair and tongue stud. The next metaphor being used is that these “students” then go on to say that they feel like they are being “buried alive, captured and suffocated in the folds of the thick satin quilt of America”. These people are living in the freest world yet they still feel like they are being smothered. Moving onto the symbolism in the poem, Hoagland says that there are RadioShacks, Burger Kings, and MTV episodes basically everywhere we look, showing the power of the advertisements. These brand names, which a lot see in everyday life, make people feel comfortable to a point where they do not want to leave the “thick satin quilt of America”. Hoagland then builds on the brand name symbolism by telling us about a dream sequence allegory into the poem. He tells us that his dream is about him stabbing his father, and watches as green $100s spill out of the wound, while he gasped “Thank god – those Ben Franklins were clogging up my heart”. This shows us that money truly has taken over our lives and it is not for the best. In “America” Hoagland uses a lot of repetition throughout the poem. Not only does he start his lines in the poem with the word “and” a lot, he uses the words “where,” “which” “when,” and “would.” 11 of the 39 lines throughout the poem started with the word “and”. By repeating the same words throughout the poem, the reader feels the same hopelessness that society’s love of money and its need for stuff has been going on for too long.
Another use of…