America by Tony Hoagland

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The poet compares modern America to a nightmare of floating in a pleasure boat down a river full of drowning people. In the poem, “America” by Tony Hoagland, the poet explores this corruption through consumerism, capitalism and greed. The poem describe the poet’s journey as he firstly gets annoyed with his student, wanting to tell him “how full of shit” he is, then recalling his dream, then recalling a quote, “I was listening to cries of the past when I should have been listening to cries of the future,” and lastly empathizing with the student while imagining the metaphorical nightmare. The poem begins with a student, which symbolizes the innocence of the person being corrupted such as our youth. By using the word “student” the writer may want to express the feeling that this corruption is due to the fact that one is still learning and one shall learn to not be corrupt. This choice of wording could also be used in order to show the point that one is corrupted through influences like a “student” learns and is influenced by his teachers. Then the author goes on to describe the student as one with “blue hair”, which could have been used in the place of red in order to not express that this corruption lead to anger but remains to be calm. The author of this poem most likely chose to describe this student as an outcast to display America’s toleration for most ideas, even if the ideas do not follow mainstream thinking. The U.S. Constitution gives Americans the right to express themselves. This includes the freedom to practice your own religion, the freedom speech, the freedom to wear which ever clothes you prefer to wear, and even the freedom to dye one’s hair blue and pierce one's own tongue. Even though most people in America do not have blue hair and a tongue stud, they are generally accepting of it because of the culture that is here in America. Consumerism is a
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