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by Allen Ginsberg

America Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. How does Ginsberg's deliberate bad grammar contribute to the message of "America"? Or does it detract from it?
  2. Do you think the speaker's personal recollections and stories add to, or distract from, the poem's overall message? If so, how? If not, why not?
  3. Is the speaker more hopeful about the prospects for America's future? Or more pessimistic? How can you tell?
  4. Does this poem's focus on a past historical period, with all its historical references, make it less relevant to a modern audience? What might a modern audience still be able to take away from this poem?
  5. Based on his complaints and desires that we learn about in the poem, what, specifically, do you think the speaker plans on doing when he "[puts his] queer shoulder to the wheel"?
  6. Does the speaker of "America" remind you of anyone (politician, newsperson, a long-lost relative)?
  7. Double super bonus: Try to recreate your own section of "America" from the perspective of someone living today, as opposed to the 1950s.

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