Margaret Atwood's poem "The Immigrants" describes the ways immigrants to a new homeland attempt to "belong" to that new place, but the poem seems to indicate that immigration can lead the individual to feel he or she doesn't belong in either the old world or the new.
The poem begins with Atwood's discussion of how immigrants "are allowed to inherit" parts of the town or neighborhood they move to, but this only results in them being criticized, "only to be told they are too poor / to keep it up." The speaker also mentions death threats and laws made to make immigrants "obsolete." This is far from a warm welcome to the immigrant's new land.
Next, Atwood describes how the immigrant's perception of their native country changes as the immigrant emerges from the ship that brought them ashore. The speaker writes, "the old countries recede, become / perfect" as the immigrants step onto their new land. The immigrants preserve a romanticized picture of their homes, but as the speaker later...
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