Differences in the Portrayal of the Nation in I hear America Singing by Walt Whitman and Mexicans Begin Jogging by Gary Soto

April 27, 2022 by Essay Writer

‘I hear America Singing’ by Walt Whitman, and ‘Mexicans Began Jogging’ by Gary Soto, are two poems where the setting is in the United States of America. The two poems show the employment situation in blending collective belonging with personal expression, and individuality with commonality. The two poets intend to bring imagery, drama, and identity to the audience. From the scenes made during work, the main characters draw to the audience the picture about what has been going on in the working places around Mexico- USA border.

The poets differ from one another as Walt Whitman tries to show a very colorful picture of how the working place is, with the various ‘harmonious sounds’ of different people working on making America by describing who specifically make America. He talks of the workers like the seamstresses, the carpenters, mothers, mechanics, and the masons. Walt Whitman vividly brings out the pride workers have in their jobs.

Where on the other hand, Gary Soto shows the misery, the struggle which workers are going through in a foreign country. Gary Soto works in the poem, ‘Mexicans began Jogging,’ which is a work of irony describing the rough situations that the illegal Mexican immigrants get while working in the United States due to the Hispanic stereotype. He tries to show us the unbearable conditions that he was subjected to in his place of work where he talks of working in the ‘fleck of rubber, under the press of an oven yellow with flame,’ which is a terrible environment to work in. This shows his deliberate image of the Hispanic stereotype, which made him being regarded as an illegal immigrant.

Walt Whitman applies figurative language, for instance, metaphors and personification in ‘ I Hear America Singing in order to make a comparison between the singing from the workers while they are working and America itself. The workers singing while working in contempt and full of joy because they have jobs is the metaphor in Walt’s work. On the other hand, Soto uses skills like visual imagery, ‘a fleck of rubber, under the press of an oven yellow with flame,’ to describe how bad the situation was. Also, he makes his poem dramatic, leaving one with anxiety about what happened next.

The two poems, despite being set in the same land and also during the same era(the 1890s), they differ strongly on how the two different characters view on how the situation at the working place was. In Soto’s work, who is a worker, he shows us how he was mistreated, being a very negative image of the situation at the working place, while in Walt’s work he describes sounds he hears of different people working to build America. This shows his naive understanding of how good the situation was at the working place. Soto’s work brings out the theme of misery, oppression, and racism at the working place although later will see them of freedom as he flees from the ‘border patrol.’ On the other hand, Walt’s work shows the theme of competency and joy in the working place. In all his work, he talks of the singing from different workers in their workplaces. he says,’ I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear..’, in Walt Whitman, ‘I hear,’ is a phrase that has been twice repeated in the first line, which emphasizes the active engagement of the speaker with the loud characteristics of the sounds. in the 13th line, a musical repetition is seen,’ The day what belongs to the day’. these show the rhythmic phrases in use n the poem.

Also, other styles in use in the poem by Walt include precise use of words where, for instance, ‘ open mouths,’ which have been used at the end of the poem to illustrate clear communication, democracy, and cooperation. contrary to his poem ‘Mexicans began jogging’ being simple, Soto has managed to bring to his audience some drama, imagery, ironic and identity. The tone of the poem is ironic and hence not too serious. The poem begins by illustrating the image of Mexican Americans in a factory. styles like imagery are shows where the poet is describing where he used to work,’ in the fleck of rubber, under a press of an oven…’ also another solid imagery is showed in line 5, ‘ boss waved s to run.’ irony is used like, the border patrol ‘opened’ where we know well that the border patrol was responsible for closing all opportunities of the Hispanics. also, in the title ‘Mexicans began jogging,’ jogging is an exercise they perform on one’s free will. but according to how situations are, neither will that jogging benefit them, nor option from individuals.

However, despite the two poets differing in some aspects, they also have some similarities in their works. in both works of poetry, the poets have used literary devices in order to make the poems more musical. Both poets have used repetition and alliteration in order to bring rhythm. The word choice, metaphor, and irony have been used both in the two different poems. this helps in emphasizing the message that the poets want to deliver. Also, the two poets bring out the theme of work where even from the beginning of the two poems, the characters and the setting are all in a working place or place proximal to the working area. besides, the poets have pictured their poems in patterns of moments whereby the poems start with a high note which signifies the workers busy in their tasks and having busy moments and then a low note at the end, which shows relief after work or getting the peace they have been looking for. This has been seen in Soto work, where he started his poem describing where he works at in the factory, what transpires after the ‘ border patrol’ arrives and how he later gets relief after yelling ‘vivas’. also in Walts poem ‘ I Hear America singing’ he begins with hearing the voices of Americans working and later in the evening after all the chaos in the day, there is friendly party of young fellows who are friendly and enjoying democracy.

In conclusion, the two poets have shown great work that sits in the same geographical area and also in the same timeline but differs on how the characters are treated. In Walt Whitman work’ I hear America singing’, the characters seem to in a more democratic country which is peaceful and motivating to all the workers in building the nation. whereas in ‘Mexicans began jogging’ Gary Soto, the situation of working places is far worse and people are risking a lot to survive(Borges 730). Democracy seems to be not functional and not reaching every citizen in the country. That’s why workers struggle all during the day, to try to get relief after hectic days. the publishing time of the two poems whereby ‘I hear America singing ‘ 1890 and ‘ Mexicans began jogging’ 1891 shows a fall in democracy, peace, and a rise in individuality and commonality. this calls for worry in the future as people’s mind is getting more corrupted.


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