During the early 1900's in the United States of America, African Americans were subjected to racism, hatred and violence at the hands of White Americans. African Americans were faced with a choice to fight back with violence, assimilate to the way things were or try to change the way they were viewed by showing pride and courage to speak out against the unjust treatment. In this essay I will discuss of two poems written by Claude McKay. The first poem we will analyze is To The White Fiends, it shows themes of hatred and violence inflicted by White Americans and the poem also shows a sense of pride and value of one's self being African American by not giving into hatred. In the second poem In Bondage, we will explore the themes of consuming hatred that you can't escape and the value of human life. .
The poem To The White Fiends shows a theme of hatred towards African Americans from White Americans and pride and value of being an African American that does not project hate. This poem was written as a sonnet, in an abbaabbacdcdcd rhyme scheme with an anapestic pentameter. To The White Fiends was written in 1922, when whites and blacks were in violent race conflicts in cities, this was referred to as "Red Summer". This sonnet depicts the protagonists' feelings about the events during that time. We will be looking at the first line in the sonnet. "Think you I am not fiend and savage too?" McKay writes (McKay 735). This question is asking if the antagonist if they believe the protagonist is not a villain or violent as well. When I read this line the theme of hatred is apparent. It seems that the question is directed to the White Americans hatred for African Americans and seems anger filled. Then McKay goes on to address the violent acts being committed against them. I believe he is asking if the whites think that he can't be as violent and evil to them as they are being to blacks.