Professor Shaddock

English 711

November 19, 2000

Marxist Reading 

"Under the Viaduct, 1932" by Rita Dove describes the waste and excess created by capitalism in America. She employs Thomas as a tour guide of the remnants of the industry that had gone under in the northern cities after the stock market crash of 1929. The poem, however, shows how Americans saw the crash as hurting mainly the industrialists, even if the reality was slightly different. I will demonstrate how Rita Dove presents the American way of dealing with economics in this poem, and how the poem remains a reflection of the capitalist economic myth.

Thomas is presented under the viaduct in 1932, just three years after the American stock market had crashed, and right in the middle of the Great Depression. Thomas himself had already suffered because of the economic crisis, losing his car in 1930. The poem presents us with a point of view that is not often seen from the era: a black family man up north. Thomas does not try to understand why he is in his situation, but the poem allows the readers to decide what has created the problems.

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