How Walk Whitman and His Work Portray True American Values

Essay by fawkes54High School, 11th gradeA-, March 2009

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Many of Walt Whitman's poems are expressions of American life and culture. His works serve as a definition of America by uniting all of its greatest qualities, including democracy and diversity. Whitman was a real American man and the country's first national poet.

Whitman is constantly seen as a straight-forward, opinionated man. His unconventional, unique approach to poetry seems to resemble America's attitude about life (Wiener 12-13). He saw himself as a common and "rough" working man. Much like people's views of America, Whitman received mixed reviews, but those who connected to him really loved his works. Ralph Waldo Emerson claimed that Whitman's book was the "most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom that America has yet contributed" (Conarroe 5).

One of Whitman's shining qualities was his relation to all Americans regardless of race, gender, religion, or lifestyle. The use of "I" in several of his poems refers not only to Whitman himself, but to anyone with goals similar to his.

His poems relate to all people that work towards freedom and equality. His poetry can relate to all of the people who are chasing the American dream. The speaker portrayed in Whitman's works is really the epitome of all Americans. The speaker is a hard working, simple, and often an assertive person (Wiener 196-198).

Whitman has shown himself to be "the spokesperson for women as well as men, blacks as well as whites, the well-heeled and the downtrodden" (Pinsker). Disturbed by all types of discrimination, Whitman was an abolitionist and a feminist. He acquired sympathy for slaves early in his life when he interacted with the young slaves on his family's farm. Later, he disapproved of anyone who was pro-slavery (Wiener 79, 196). Whitman used inclusive words such as "the man or the woman," instead of using 'man'...