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The Presence of Walt Whitman in “A Supermarket in California”

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  1. Ginsberg relates to Whitman immediately: as he experiences his ?headache self-conscious?
  2. Each person in the supermarket that Ginsberg mentions is somehow connected to another person
  3. Ginsberg is left behind with Whitman, who in ?A Supermarket in California? is present to see this evolved era.
  4. When the two poets leave the supermarket, Ginsberg further develops his relationship with Walt Whitman by switching from a narrative approach of writing
  5. The influence of Walt Whitman on Allen Ginsberg

Allen Ginsberg's poem ?A Supermarket in California? is a vivid depiction of the contrast between a lighted, populated American supermarket and the dark, solitary streets outside; a contrast between the youthful American generation and the aged, solitary Walt Whitman who is contained within it. It is here in the supermarket where Ginsberg observes the shoppers and reflects on the ?lost America? (line 24) as he wanders among the aisles, following the imaginary Walt Whitman, his inspiration and equivalent. In ?A Supermarket in California,? Allen Ginsberg uses Walt Whitman as a tool for inspiration and communication, in order to voice his own disillusionment regarding the changing of America, as well as to express his feelings of personal isolation during the time period.

[...] In the way that Whitman would have felt solitary in the supermarket--a foreign symbol of changing America--Ginsberg feels the turmoil associated with the new age of which he is a part, an age of ideals but also an age of anxiety. The people in the supermarket are the people of their time. Ginsberg is left behind with Whitman, who in Supermarket in California? is present to see this evolved era. When the two poets leave the supermarket, Ginsberg further develops his relationship with Walt Whitman by switching from a narrative approach of writing, to addressing the poet directly. [...]


[...] The Presence of Walt Whitman in Supermarket in California? Allen Ginsberg's poem Supermarket in California? is a vivid depiction of the contrast between a lighted, populated American supermarket and the dark, solitary streets outside; a contrast between the youthful American generation and the aged, solitary Walt Whitman who is contained within it. It is here in the supermarket where Ginsberg observes the shoppers and reflects on the ?lost America? (line 24) as he wanders among the aisles, following the imaginary Walt Whitman, his inspiration and equivalent. [...]

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