Discussion Questions, Part 1
"The last day of our journey [to America] comes vividly to my mind. Everybody was on deck. Helena and I stood pressed to each other, enraptured by the sight of the harbor and the Statue of Liberty suddenly emerging from the mist. Ah, there she was, the symbol of hope, of freedom, of opportunity! She held her torch high to light the way to the free country, the asylum for the oppressed of all lands.
We, too, Helena and I, would find a place in the generous heart of America. Out spirits were high, our eyes filled with tears."
Emma Goldman, Living My Life, Vol. 1 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1931), p.11
The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, With conquering limbs astride from land to land; Here at our sea-washed sunset gates shall stand A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame Is the imprisoned lightening, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door."
Emma Lazarus, 1883
Questions for Discussion:
- What is the message of "The New Colossus?" Does it match your own understanding of the meaning of the Statue of Liberty?
- How does Emma Goldman's experience of the Statue of Liberty compare to Emma Lazarus' understanding?
- Do you think the Statue of Liberty holds different meanings for those who are born in the United States and those who arrive as immigrants?
- Why did Emma Goldman include a passage about her sighting of the Statue of Liberty on her journey into America even though the statue was not complete when she arrived in New York harbor by boat in 1885? What do you think of this choice?