Friday, May 18, 2012


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Bruce Dawe is strongly opposed to consumerism, as shown through his poem, "Americanized". The poem is written in a predominantly bitter and ironic tone. The title itself is ironic. Bruce Dawe is Australian and has spelled the title using American spelling rather than Australian spelling, with the 's' being replaced by a 'z'.

Stanza one is set in the morning at breakfast time. It involves the mother and her child. Instead of the usual loving mother, we see a cold mother and one that is doubtful of her lover for her own child. Dawe uses cold language such as 'beneficence', 'beamed' and 'laminex' as well has the pause after 'she loves him' to signify this. The pair are also conveyed to be separate from each other, symbolised by them being on opposite sides of the breakfast table.

Stanza two shows us how the baby is well looked after, yet is lacking the affection that small children need. The child experiences a 'vague passing spasm of loss'.  The mother blocks out her child’s cries. There is a lack of contact and warmth between the pair.

Stanza three again shows doubtfulness about the mother’s love. We see how the mother locks her child in because she fears the modern world. She sees the world as dangers and especially fears men. Her fear of men is emphasized by the italics used. In the final line of the stanza, the mother puts her son on a plastic pot. This is somewhat symbolic of the consumeristic society i.e. manufactured and cheap.

Stanza four is a metaphor. The mother trying to toilet train her son is a metaphor for people learning the rules of society and trying to conform to society’s ways. In this stanza, the mother is society and the child is someone trying to learn society’s values. It is against the child’s natural instinct, yet the mother still tries to force it.

In stanza five, the mother leaves the house and leaves her son at home alone. The mother is said to be 'off to nurse and invalid called the world.' This is to do with the theory of consumption. The mother has gone out to consume materialistic items that will in turn keep the consumer-based economy 'healthy'. If she and the millions of other members of the consumer society fail to do this, the consumer economy will 'sicken'.

Stanza six shows how toys and presents mark the child’s life rather than love and affection. His life is measured only by what the boy has been given, not genuine love. The final line of the stanza shows how exciting and interesting 'Mummy’s things' seem to the child. It is a glimpse into the reality of his mother’s world and the child likes the idea of this. This is somewhat ironic. 'Mummy’s things' are really only consumer items that have little or no value.

Stanza seven and eight are mockeries of consumer items. Dawe mentions items such us Pepsi-Cola, spam, chewing-gum, hot dogs and ‘electronic brains' and says 'what child of simple origins could want more'.This is a rhetorical question that is asked for dramatic effect. In stanza eight there is a parody of Ren. Descartes quote 'I think therefore I am.'  Instead, Dawe says 'I think young, think big, therefore I am.' This is supposed to be the philosophy of consumerism. This philosophy is that producers of consumer items encourage people to be 'big spenders' on things that they really do not need, rather than to stop and thing about whether or not what they are buying is a necessity.

In stanza nine, the child is alone and hears the children outside playing and has a longing to be with them. In stanza ten the child is still alone, and this last long into the night where the child’s nursery is cast into darkness. This causes the child to become petrified and 'on the verge of terror'.

In stanza eleven, Dawe uses horror-movie clich to create the spooky setting. He speaks 'bats' wings' and the 'velvet room'. The final stanza continues on with this theme as the door-knob twists and her 'figure looms'. Even thought he child knows that it is his own mother, he is still frightened. He is scared of her and her world and he realises that she has total control over him.

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