In the poem 'Americanized' by Bruce Dawe, what is so frightening about playing with American 'toys'?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The frightening element about the child playing with American "toys" is that it is a substitute for anything real.  The mother and child relationship is not one predicated upon love and tenderness.  It is based upon emptiness and repetition.  The mother is a figure that seeks to create the child as a clone of herself.  The playing with American toys is a metaphor to convey how American notions of consumer identity are overtaking the world.  The toys the child plays with are not non- descriptive toys of constructive creativity.  They are American name- brands, corporations whose desire to control the market and construct a generation of consumers is synonymous with the removal of individual uniqueness and identity.  Toys like Pepsi, spam, hot- dogs and gum are reflections of this consumerism that deadens the individual sensibility.  The mother is a product of this as she tells her child to essentially emulate her own being:  "I think young, I think big, therefore I am."  Dawe sees the consumerist tendencies of the mother has having been forged from her own fascination with her "American toys."  Like a sacred testament, such consumerist credo is being passed from mother to child.  This is where Dawe feels that there is something frightening about the child playing with American "toys."  A new generation of soulless consumption is being created, manifesting  the child's cries in the early part of the poem.  There is an emotional void between mother and child.  Rather than reflect on this condition, playing with American "toys" precludes any introspection.  Something scary exists in this.

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