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America

America

by Allen Ginsberg

Visions of America Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #4

I haven't read the newspapers for months, everyday somebody goes on trial for
murder. (26)

Wow. What sort of vision does this line paint? Without even checking the news, the speaker can just tell that Americans will go on killing each other, or at least go on trial for killing each other. So, let's take stock so far: he's got an ignorant, overconfident, violent country on his hands. Good times for our speaker.

Quote #5

America I still haven't told you what you did to Uncle Max after he came over
from Russia. (37)

Now the speaker gets personal. We're guessing that, since America did something to his Uncle Max, rather than for Uncle Max, the experience was not a positive one. What's more, America takes the blame for whatever hardships poor Uncle Max suffered through. This is particularly bad, given that America is historically supposed to welcome the "huddled masses" of immigrants to its shores. We mean, it's on the Statue of Liberty for criminey's sake!

Quote #6

America this is the impression I get from looking in the television set.
America is this correct? (75-76)

It's interesting to consider that the vision we get in this poem of the speaker's view of America is, in many ways, a received vision. In other words, he gets his ideas in part by watching America on TV. Now, we're guessing that our speaker (a history buff and a book fan) is not just watching TV, but he does say that even television contributes to his vision of America as a place that is just not living up to its promise. Importantly, he wants to know if America would want it that way. Implied in the question "Is this correct?" is a kind of hope that the speaker may indeed be wrong. He hopes America might realize that the impression it's giving is the pits, and so straighten up its act.

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