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Malec 1 Running head: WE THE PEOPLE

We the People Deborah R Malec December 18, 2009

Malec 2 We the People In the preamble of United States Constitution, we find the words: We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America The American experience is different among those who call themselves American. The literary work of many writers, gives us a glimpse into the thoughts and reflections that are images of American people and their lives. America, I’ve given you all and now I am nothing Allen Ginsberg, begins his poem with the words, “America I‟ve given you all and now I am nothing (Ginsberg 1956 p.2240).” He speaks directly to America and bears his soul and his thoughts about his life as an American. He speaks out against the anticommunism foreign policy and the American culture of materialism and conforming to a non-American way of life. He admits studying communism as a child under the guidance of his parents (Ginsberg 1956). He describes the the way Americans fear an economic communist takeover. The reference, „now I am nothing‟ refers to the bankrupt condition of the writer (Ginsberg 1956 p.2240). He condemns the big businesses like automakers in America and taunts the prices charged to own an automobile. He asks the readers if they will be influenced by the media like the Times magazine. The writer tells America, „Everybody‟s serious but me (Ginsberg 1956 p.2242).‟ His heroes live outside mainstream America and suffer for false charges. They are his American heroes because they value truth and they are brave enough to stand up for the cause right values. Ginsberg points out to America that the people are losing their moral and spiritual values.

Malec 3 White and Black in America The story, „Recitatif‟ by Toni Morrison is about one white girl and one black girl meeting at an orphanage as young children, meeting at picket lines, and a final meeting in which the two find unity in their lives. This story represents the struggle in America to eliminate racism, prejudice and discrimination and for the people to grow into that more than perfect union as stated in the Preamble of the United States Constitution. The relationship between the two girls is shaped by their differences in race, economics and politics. Twyla taught by her mother, believes that black people smell, and she should not associate with them. However, Roberta and Twyla find they have some things in common and strike up a close friendship. Both of their mothers placed them in the orphanage until a later time and both girls are afraid of the older children. Both girls have memories of not speaking out when another orphan is taunted and tortured on the grounds. The girls parted for several years and then reunite at Twyla‟s place of occupation. There is a conflict of interest in popular songs and artists and they part again. During a racial tension at a school, Twyla and Roberta find themselves in the same place again and with views on school issues. This story about Twyla and Roberta, describes the lives of many Americans, white and black, in how their parental upbringing, and experiences, defines their identities. Despite the differences, they found something similar and familiar in each other. An American Is Edward L. Hudgins defined “What is an American” in a unique way. For him an American is a person that is active and not a lazy day dreamer, but and American is someone who makes an effort and has initiative, one who thinks about how to meet the challenges and takes the risks to achieve the best in life. Immigrants risk leaving their homes and often their families to cross the ocean, but even they and all Americans understand that being timid will get

Malec 4 them nothing, so they forge ahead through the worse times in hope. Hudgins ends his definition of an American by stating that an American seeks economic prosperity and personal liberty. President Franklin D. Roosevelt‟s Secretary Harold Ickes gave a speech titled, “I am an American”. His speech begins by answering the question, “What constitutes an American?” He begins to describe what an American is not. Not color, race nor religion. Not the pedigree of his family nor the place of his birth. Not the coincidence of his citizenship. Neither his social status nor his bank account. Neither his trade nor his profession. Ickes is telling us that these things are not what makes a person an American. Yet, there are some who believe some of these are requirements. Even some immigrants to America feel they must work toward one of these positions in society. But Ickes is telling them that these are not what makes an American. He continues by telling us what describes an American, “An American is one who loves justice and believes in the dignity of man. An American is one who will fight for his freedom and that of his neighbor.” This implies that an American is a person who obeys the law, sees worth in every individual, fights to be free and to help others to be free.” Ickes continues, “ An American is one who will sacrifice property, ease and security so that he and his children may retain the rights of a free man.” Ickes is telling us that an American will give all so that his or her children will be free.

Malec 5 References Ginsberg, Allen. "America." Lauter, Paul. The Heath Anthology of American Literature. 5. Vol. E. Houghton Mifflin Company, 1973. 2240-2242. Ickes, Harold. What is an American? Speech given in NY Central Park May 1941. From Tamar Jacoby, Washington Post‟s Book World via Instructor‟s notes of American Literature class at Excelsior College. Hudgins, Edward L. What is an American? Cato Institute. via Instructor‟s notes of American Literature class at Excelsior College. Morrison, Toni. "Recitatif." Lauter, Paul. The Heath Anthology of American Literature. 5. Vol. E. Houghton Mifflin Company, 1973. 2438-2451.