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Response 2
February 27, 2012, 6:34 pm
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Shelley Alix
Professor Alvarez
English 255
27 February 2012

The American Dream: The underlying theme in William Carlos Willams “Libertad! Igualdad! Fraternidad!” and “Apology”

When we set goals for ourselves sometimes they are hard to reach. Immigrants who come to America have goals in life and want to achieve the “American Dream”. One must hope to one day own a home and have the means to be able to provide for their family a stable and healthy life, but sometimes doing so is harder than expected. William Carlos Williams’s poem Libertad! Igualdad! Fraternidad! shows us that sometimes dreams cannot come true and can be the reason we fail at reaching our goals.

You sullen pig of a man
you force me into the mud
with your stinking ash-cart![…]

It is dreams that have destroyed us.

There is no more pride
in horses or in rein holding.
We sit hunched together brooding
our fate.

all things turn bitter in the end
whether you choose the right or
the left way
dreams are not a bad thing (1-3,8-17).

This quote opens one’s eyes because to me it reflects what can happen to anyone, you may have it all in one moment but the next it can all be gone. It could be that the man that’s on the cart came from a higher rank in society and lost it all or it could be a man that is poor but has yet accepted it. Just the beginning of this poem reminds me of father Serra’s attitude towards his Indio’s and the way he treated them. Here we have a man complaining to another man about another man who practically carries him around. The speaker gets stuck in a dream where he believes otherwise and thinks he has wealth or better then the man carrying the ash-cart. The man pulling the ash-cart points out something very true “it is dreams that have destroyed us”, this man does not want to accept the reality of his life.

I think this poem gives sad and discouraging vibe because at the end it seems like William Carlos Williams states that it doesn’t matter how hard you try because in the end, nothing you ever strive for will happen not even if you did everything how you were suppose to. He also says “dreams are not a bad thing” after saying that “all things turn bitter in the end” which confused me but I guess he says it so that we won’t stop striving to achieve more in life and have a reason to be alive. In addition, I think the title that he chose for this poem doesn’t really reflect in the poem as much because the title translated means about liberty, equality, and brotherhood. In this poem we see one man who thinks he is better than the other, and we don’t see much of a brotherhood until he mentions “We sit hunched together brooding our fate”, the fact that they have to sit together and await their fate symbolizes “fraternidad”.

“Apology” is Another poem by Williams that closely relates to Libertad! Igualdad! Fraternidad! is. This poem talks about the working class citizens in America. His ideolody can relate to what I see when I think of the working class immigrant This poem describes from his point of view what they look like and it goes like this:

colored women
day workers—
old and experienced—
returning home at dusk
in cast off clothing
faces like
old Florentine oak (6-12).

The title of this poem may confuse the reader because it doesn’t sound like an apology to me. Here we see that Williams’ describes the life of the working class people, they leave their house to go work and then come back home in their work clothes tired and old looking. This has a lot to do with the American dream because as an immigrant in the United States, one comes here to work hard until you have enough money to get the things you always wanted in life. When he said “colored women day workers—old and experienced—“to me states how immigrants have to work A LOT. When a person reachers a certain age they grow tierd and they have to keep on working because the American Dream isn’t a cheap dream and because they are immigrants they have to keep on working until they cannot anymore because pension plans or social security benefits do not apply to them.

Works Cited

Williams William Carlos “Libertad! Igualdad! Fraternidad!”The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature. Eds. Ilan Stavans, Edna Acosta-Belen, Harold Augenbraum, Maria Herrera-Sobek, Rolando Hinojosa, and Gustavo Perez Firmat. New York: W.W Norton & Company, 2011. 419. Print.

Williams William Carlos “Apology” The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature. Eds. Ilan Stavans, Edna Acosta-Belen, Harold Augenbraum, Maria Herrera-Sobek, Rolando Hinojosa, and Gustavo Perez Firmat. New York: W.W Norton & Company, 2011. 419-420. Print.

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Shelley, I like the theme you picked up here. I wonder if you can think of any of the terms you may have heard from immigrant studies in other courses, maybe in sociology or that you may have encountered. This way you could start building some of that critical vocabulary which I see already happening here. Terms like “work” “labor” “capital” “resources” “transnationalism” and the like would be great for you to look into. I see you beginning to look at some of the social things Williams gets at in these poems.

I see the PIE structures happening here, keep working with those. The E interpretations are improving, that’s clear. I like how you use some of the important terms, and also how you made connections to what you remembered from the Culture Clash text.

Also, remember don’t second guess yourself, and to make strong claims. Get rid of terms like “I think” or “to me” so for example “it might mean that . . . ” would be “it means that . . .”. Make firm interpretations, that will give your writing strength to stand on its own despite what anyone says to argue with you.

For your title: The American Dream: The underlying theme in William Carlos Willams “Libertad! Igualdad! Fraternidad!” and “Apology” looks pretty good, but I think it’s missing just two things. The first would be the detail of where the put the ‘s in William Carlos Williams. Because you have two poems by him that’s plural, so in this case it would be William Carlos Williams’ and not Williams’s. The second is that you should add what that “common theme” is between the two. Is it Masculinity? Colonial History? Spanglish? Immigrant Work Ethic? Mestizaje? Whatever you could put in that place that would be descriptive in what you’re analyzing will be better there.

Overall the title looks good though, you have all the necessary parts. They take a little practice, but once you get them down they get easier.

For your MLA and misc.
–Check the OWL about how to cite more than one text from a single author. For the second time you use his name, you use —. instead.

–You’re missing a period after the second W. in W.W. Norton

–You need a space between the first poem’s title and The Norton Anthology . . . (that should also be italicized).

–Check where you put the comma: “. . . destroyed us”, should be “. . . destroyed us,”

–13 “to be” verbs

3.3 out of 5 points. I’ll be taking off twice as many points next round for MLA and “to be” verbs.

   salvarez 03.01.12 @ 2:36 pm

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