Identity in America
Child of the Americas – analysis
Aurora Levins Morales’ poem “Child of the Americas” puts across feelings related to multicultural heritage and to the pride that one should take on as a result of being multicultural. Although one might initially consider that the writer feels ashamed with her background, it is gradually revealed that she is particularly proud as a result of it and that she actually wants to express sentiments of self-esteem through this poem. Heritage has apparently played an essential role in the poet’s upbringing, as her personality was shaped by the cultural background of the ethnic voices present in her. To a certain degree, Morales goes against the dominant part of her culture in order to emphasize the fact that she is multicultural and that the American society in general should accept the fact that it contains a great deal of cultural values inherited from other cultures.
Morales is apparently hesitant about being assimilated in the American society, as she wants the masses to acknowledge her background. The writer does not necessarily want to deny the influence that American cultural values have had on her upbringing, as she continues them to be equally important to traditions that she inherited from her ancestors. She was born in a place that respected cultural values present in a wide variety of communities and her first language was “Spanglish.”
The poet makes good use of symbolism, imagery, and epitomes in an attempt to provide her readers with a clear understanding of her position. The poem is meant to explain more about the melting pot in the U.S. And how it has come to influence practically all Americans, considering that they identify with a diverse range of backgrounds. In spite of the fact that many Americans originate in particular cultures from around the world, it is very difficult for them to identify with a single culture, as their culture virtually consists out of several cultures that have been brought together.
Morales is frustrated with the fact that the American society believes that it can simply assimilate other cultures. She wants people to understand that it is impossible for her and for others like her to abandon their backgrounds in order to embrace a culture that they do not identify with. Similarly, she is aware that the American community is sometimes inclined to influence multicultural people to return to the countries that their ancestors came from. However, she highlights the fact that it would be impossible for her to return to a particular place, even with the fact that she realizes that part of her belongs to the respective location. The poet explains that it is very difficult for a multicultural individual to find his or her place in the world, as they are constantly attracted by cultural values present in a variety of civilizations. All of these cultures are present in her mind and she accepts them by becoming a part of a unique community encompassing a wide variety of ideas. Because she does not feel comfortable looking in the past for a cultural identity, she wants to live in the present. This makes it possible for her to identify with a single culture that recognizes her character and that promotes the belief that it is perfectly normal for an individual to live in accordance with customs present in a series of cultures.
Morales considers that culture is more important than race when it comes to the factors that influence a particular individual. A multicultural individual behaves different from mainstream people, as he or she is accustomed to performing diverse activities that have entered his or her community as a result of the numerous numbers of cultures present here. It appears that Morales indirectly praises the American culture for the fact that it enabled people coming from diverse environments to interact and to become a part of a community of their own.
The poem uses the concept of food with the purpose of putting across factors that are representative for certain cultures. Morales is aware that there are many people in the U.S. who are similar to her and wants her poem to influence them in adopting a relaxed attitude regarding their cultural identity. From her perspective, one does not need to identify with a single culture in order for the respective individual to have his or her confidence strengthened. Instead, a person who is multicultural needs to accept his or her background and focus on living in the future as the product of a series of factors that came together in shaping his or her personality.
Through claiming that “history made me,” Morales emphasizes the fact that her cultural identity is the product of many years of evolution during which several cultures interacted and affected each-other. Several cultures living in the same place make it possible for individuals to get actively engaged in creating a new culture. The writer wants readers to comprehend the wrongness in discriminating and to learn that living in harmony with other cultures provides one with the opportunity to achieve positive results in his or her life.
Levin Morales, Aurora, “Child of the Americas,”
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