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Williams' Meaning Of The New World

1266 words - 6 pages

Williams’ Meaning of the New World

Williams Carlos Williams describes how a major event has shaped America in each chapter of In the American Grain. In each event, Williams refers to the “New World” but never clearly states what the New World is. Williams gives the readers an opportunity to stir up their imagination and decide the meaning of the New World on their own. With the knowledge received from previous chapters, it is safe to argue that the “American Grain” is the seed planted by early settlers that created the characteristics of the New World. Williams points out similar occurrences during different parts of history that originated in the “grain”. These reoccurrences are ...view middle of the document...

If we did not make money our conception of reality would have to be changed. In order to balance your business and another purpose requires “to spoil the intoxication” of your imagination (Williams 179-180). Not only does America have a fear of being unsuccessful, it fears the consequences of changing or experimenting. Williams discusses how the New World must never fully posses something, but to just touch or see. He blames the Puritan’s fear to go outside their comfort zone for the reason it is “the impossibility to attain is the source of all good in the world” (Williams 176). Williams proposes this idea in the chapter “Poor Richard”, “Franklin did not care to be ruined – he only wanted to touch” (Williams 155). He also goes on arguing “to want to touch…comes always of a kind of timidity, from fear” (Williams 157). This is another example why Williams refers to the developing of America’s character as the New World. In the chapter of Ben Franklin, he claims that Franklin is “the development of the timidity” (Williams 155). Williams is noting that the timidity of achievement in America was created by Franklin. Williams notes that “fear drove his curiosity” when Franklin invented the lightning rod which led to explorations of electricity (Williams 155). The miraculous energy that goes into invention is the force of fear. Inventions are created in a “metronome” way, waiting for the time that a fear will encourage a new invention (Williams 177). Williams considers Franklin’s inventions, and other accomplishments of America, hurtful to the New World. Aristocrats of that era had to “touch” everything and use it in a “practical” way. The system used to

increase the gap between touch and a thing is the force of fear that can rob emotions (Williams 177). Williams mockingly justifies America’s need for slaves when he argues America’s fear of touch. He indicates the difference in “service” and “as to serve another”. Service, in America, is sending relief supplies to a foreign country who experienced a disaster, such as “relieving cyclone sufferers in India” (Williams 176). But, “An American will not serve another man...to serve another, with a harder personal devotion is foreign to us” (Williams 176). Americans are afraid to do the work and will loose their self-esteem. Contrary to America’s fear of touch, it does have a love for violence; “it thrills at big fires and explosions” (Williams 177). Americans are “the finest fire fighters in the world”, they simply wait around for a fire to get a pleasure. But is it pleasure they are waiting for, or is it “‘generosity’ and ‘honor’” they cannot wait to give to the victims, so they can insure their wealth...

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