“Child of Americas”

In the poem, “Child of Americas,” race and ethnicity result in confusion and the loss of identity for children born to different heritages. As Morales highlights, “I am a child of the Americas, a light-skinned mestiza of the Caribbean, a child of Diaspora, born into this continent at crossroads.”(p 5) This clearly indicates that there are also crossbreeds of different cultures, which have lived in different societies from their heritage line, and are in a state of confusion. They do not know whether to identify themselves with the culture, race or ethnic group of either of the parent, or of where they grew up. On the contrary, those who were born black identify thus with themselves. For instance, when the old woman dies, and her dead body lay on the road, the black families guessed that she must have been visiting her relatives at a far distance (Walker, 1970). Where does the child born of different heritage belong?

The theme of ethnicity and race has brought about the major conflicts in the society. This is a result of the different races and ethnicities. Conflict arises when the old woman goes to the church, and the sermon stops, then every body else in the congregation stares at the woman with a snare. The ladies in the church ordered their husbands to throw the old woman out; they looked at the old woman with contempt. After, she is thrown out they are comfortable and the sermon proceeds. This is a sheer contradiction where the church individual’s expectations to show love to all the attendees of the sermon to bring them closer to the lord. The use of conflict has vastly enriched the literary work of Morales (1986) and Walker (1970). It has created an in-depth understanding of the theme of ethnicity and race.

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Different stylistic devices used by different authors communicate similar themes to the readers of their works. Walker (1970) has significantly used narration as her device. She captures the interest of the reader by the use of irony, where we expect love and care from the church, but what we do not expect is hatred. He also makes use of first-and second –person narration and the constant change of perspective in the storyline.

Use of literature devices such as short stories in literature, results to cultural enrichment. According to (Ar%u0131o%u011Ful, 2001), many language learners lack an ideal way to enhance their understanding of the verbal, and non verbal facets of communication. Extending their stay would be a solution, but this is not probable because of constraints such as time and finances. The alternative for such learners is the use of literary works such as poems and short stories as used by Walker and Morales.

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The world of poetry and short narrations may be imaginary, but it presents a colorful and full setting where characters from different social and regional backgrounds (Elliot, 1990). This is the illustration in the short story “The Welcome Table” by Walker where she presents the thoughts, feelings, traditions, customs, and possession of the different characters; it helps readers to see the outside world. The author’s creativity creates a colorful world where readers can quickly feel the codes, and preoccupations that help to shape a society via illustration literacy of semiotics.

Morales (1986) use a poem to communicate the theme of ethnicity and race. He uses the first person narration in the poem. The poem uses literary techniques that bring the poem theme to life, making it fascinating and easy to understand.  “I am not African. Africa is in me, but I cannot return.” is an example of repetition (Çubukçu, 2001).   The repetition makes the poem sound better than just saying, “I am an African, but I will never return there.”  The poem makes the reader want to dig to get the theme of the poem. Poetry does neither outline restriction on the number of characters the poet includes, nor the number of words. The objective of the poet is to tell the narration, convey her or his emotions and thoughts, opinions and reflections.

Poems are able to sustain an intimate conversation. Different people reading the same poem achieve different things out of the poem. Individuals who read the poems have different objectives in reading the poem thus they end up with diverse themes out of the poem. Poems help readers to understand things fully. When the author is writing the poem he or she has to change their perspective to gain a deep understanding of the theme of the poem. A poem helps readers to come to fast understanding of the broad picture in the poem, in a deeper manner than if the same theme or picture is in ordinary language. Poems also command the reader’s attention, by skimming a poem through a reader may fail to get the theme of the poem. For instance by looking at the title of the poem, “Child of the Americans” at a glance a reader would think the poem is addressing American children, which is not, the case the poem is addressing children from other nations but are proud to be in America.

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Ethnicity and race are historical and cultural construction by individuals.  They bring social inequality and injustices in the society, and erosion of some cultures as outlined in the poem; Child of The Americans. This has the effect of either building the economically stable race at the expense of the weaker races. This is mainly as a result of inferiority complex by the weaker race which in most instances is people with a black skin color. They disown their race and ethnicity and try to match with the white-skinned people. Ultimately in the long run, the whites misuse them.  According to Walker (1970), the old woman was referred to as “auntie” and “grandma” as a way of ridicule. However, she did not let it deter her personality by creating inferiority complex in her.

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