In "Americanized" by Bruce Dawe, what ideas about consumerism is Dawe trying to convey?

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

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"Americanized" presents the paradigm that many destructive ideas are associated with consumerism.  In the poem, Dawe depicts consumerism has having constructed an emotional barrier between mother and child.  She is driven by the tenets that consumerism has imparted to her.  They are self- indulgent and narcissistic elements that preclude any real emotional embrace of motherhood.  "The vague, passing spasm of loss" from the child is largely ignored as the mother is more concerned with her toys.  

Consumerism has supplanted any real connection between them. When the mother allows the child to "play" with toys that are hers, what is found is the world of brand name products like Pepsi, chewing gum, and spam. The only human connection that exists between them is one that is commercially generated and for profit. This presents consumerism as a destructive force, hollow at its core. It is designed for individuals to believe that it can be a force of communion, when in reality it is a force that is shown to facilitate emotional separation and emptiness.  In this light, Dawe's critique of consumerism as a emptied- out testament that is passed from mother to child, generation to generation, is chilling.

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