It should be known that in every text there is a message that is extremely vital. This is because it has the ability to portray information that needs to be known by its readers. Communication is considered being the most essential aspect of any text, whether it is in poems or plays. Some of the most common methods of portraying texts are through language, characterization, and tone, among others. The play by Lonergan and the poem by Dickman is a way through which communication takes place. The key themes that are present in Dickman’s and Lonergan’s poem and play respectively are the elements, which affect young people as they progress into adulthood. The latter includes; Sexual liaison, theft and drug use, among many others.
This paper seeks to give an analysis of the differences and similarities of the major themes in Lonergan’s and Dickman’s works.
Dickman and Lonergan seem to believe that in the United States, life is often difficult for the youth as they try and transit into adulthood. This is because they are faced with many challenges in their lives. It is often difficult for the youth to escape from the miserable lives that they are living due to peer pressure. This scenario is present in the play ‘Thus is our youth’ by Lonergan. The main character is Warren and his friend Ziegler who are teenagers and are just about to reach adulthood. They have left their homes in order to leave on their own, but have used different approaches (Lonergan, 2000. 24). Warren stole money amounting to fifteen thousand dollars from his father as an act of defiance. The stolen money is to be used by Warren as upkeep away from home. On the other hand, Dennis is lucky as his father has agreed to rent an apartment for him in New York, at the Upper West Side. Dennis and Warren encounter a lot of trouble as they live their lives, and it can all be blamed on the decisions that they have made. The road to adulthood has many barriers such as sex, drugs, and theft, which seem to affect the lives of Warren and Dennis. According to Dickman, the youth of American are faced with many problems, which they find extremely difficult to handle. They seem to lack proper guidance and in turn, engage in undesirable behavior that affects them once they attain adulthood (Dickman, 2008. 38).
Often, before one reaches adulthood, they experience many problems and this is despite the different backgrounds where they come. Most parents tend to ignore their children once they attain a certain age. Other times, it is considered mandatory that once teenagers are about to become adults, they should leave home. The lucky youth who come from affluent backgrounds are supported by their parents and this is not applicable to the poor youth. The future is determined by the actions, which they make. For example, the need by Warren and Dennis to engage in selling drugs had a likely negative outcome. The outcomes include being sent to jail or losing their lives as a result of engaging in deals that are not successful. Only the present situation seems to matter to the youth as engaging in sex, alcohol, and drugs are part of their desires. Maturation is an idea that needs to be instilled among the youth as it can affect their lives’ outcomes. Dickman is interested in matters related to human existence because it gives people an aim in life. Also, the American youth should know about these extremely key issues in order to ensure that they lead lives that are meaningful. Furthermore, parents, academic institutions, as well as the media, should always portray a positive image to the youth. People will always have a passion for things, which they cherish and love. This means that the youth will be infatuated and misinterpret it to mean love. Warren cherished his baseball cap and when Jessica attempted to have it, Warren felt disgusted towards her.
The issue concerning morality and values is indeed one that needs to be addressed urgently, especially because it concerns the youth. The latter are faced with an urge to identify themselves so that others can notice them. Identity is often associated with performing evil deeds, which might have serious repercussions. The need to attain a self-image makes the youth engage in acts of immorality, which undermines many American values. In Lonergan poem, Jessica and Dennis are aware of their nature and this is what affects their behavior. When the youth are associating with their peers, they tend to want to show off and be recognized by others. For example, Warren and Dennis started selling drugs in an attempt to make easy money and at the same time be known among their peers (Lonergan, 2000. 56). On the contrary, Dickman believes that the youth should make their own decisions and always be confident. In turn, it will be difficult for other youth to try and dishearten them and forge fake identities. By observing and following rules as well as being morally upright, the youth can effectively redeem themselves. Rebelling against authority should not be condoned as it can make them lose their morality.
Matters concerning sex have for a long time been extremely controversial, especially when it pertains to the youth. The latter seem to believe that sex is for pleasure and for fun, as well as satisfying bodily desires. Money is viewed as a means of obtaining sexual favors particularly when it is men who want sex form the other gender (Shelden. Et Al, 2003. 67). In Lonergan’s play, sex is extremely evident as it is a means of obtaining satisfaction. It was at the exquisite Plaza Hotel that Warren enticed young girls for purposes of obtaining sex. He spent the money he had stolen in order to have fun with girls and this can be described as being a lustful affair. The human body is not accorded the respect it deserves but is instead used for other purposes. The attention and devotion it deserves is something that has been long forgotten. This makes Dickson believe that the American youth are engaging in sex before they are ready or know about the consequences. A lot needs to be done to ensure that the negative aspects of engaging in underage sex are made known to the youth.
Dickman ensures that the life of the American youth is known, mostly in the sectors of personal matters, memories, as well as love matters. He believes that the United States is a country that is extremely broken and most especially it is the youth who are affected. He further believes that it is the nature of human beings to engage in acts that are not acceptable, especially when they are in their youth. According to him, this is a rite of passage, which the youths have to pass (Dickman, 2008. 49). More should be done for the youth of America as they are the ones who are the generation of the future. The effective use of humor in the ‘All American Poem’ has made it known that the youths have a chance of having a fulfilling future. This is because the youth will be aware of what it takes to escape from problems such as drugs and sex. On the other hand, Lonergan has made it clear that it is through peer pressure and family background that the youth is who they have become. A positive environment should be created for the youth, in order to make their future lives have a purpose and well as meaning.
In conclusion, the message being brought about by Dickman and Lonergan is that the youth should live meaningful lives. They should not engage in negative vices, which will affect them and other generations in the future. The American youth should be positive role models who can make something of themselves. From the given literature, is clearly evident that attaining adulthood is not an easy task, as along the youth still face many challenges. In turn, more should be done to make the transition process as smooth as possible.
Lonergan, Kenneth. This is our Youth. New York: Overlook TP, 2000.Print.
Dickman, Mathew, All American Poem. New York: American Poetry Review, 2008.Print.
Shelden, Randall. Et Al. Youth Gangs in American Society (Contemporary Issues in Crime and Justice Series) New York: Wadsworth. 2003. Print.
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