Regarding McKay's "America," discuss the significance of the "granite wonders."

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

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In McKay's poem, the "granite wonders" refer to America's "might."  The speaker constructs a vision of America that represents strength.  This is repeated at different points.  The "tiger's tooth," "her vigor," and "bigness" are all images that help to convey the strength and power of America.  The "granite wonders" is another image of this.  Yet, consistent with power in McKay's work, the speaker is articulating a vision of power turning on itself.  The symbol of America is this poem is one where strength and power are not used to bring others in, but rather to marginalize and silence.  This is also consistent with McKay's position as a poet who speaks "the dispossessed, the oppressed, the discriminated against."  The "granite wonders" of skyscrapers, buildings, and monuments that represent strength and power are viewed with skepticism at the end of the poem, where the poet suggests that these monuments are built upon a firmament that is "sinking in the sand."  In this light, the poem fulfills another idea of McKay's poetry in the speaker possessing sight in the land of the blind.

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