Traditions and old teachings are essential to Native American culture; however growing up in the modern west creates a distance and ignorance about one’s identity. In the beginning, the narrator is in the hospital while as his father lies on his death bed, when he than encounters fellow Native Americans. One of these men talks about an elderly Indian Scholar who paradoxically discussed identity, “She had taken nostalgia as her false idol-her thin blanket-and it was murdering her” (6). The nostalgia represents the old Native American ways. The woman can’t seem to let go of the past, which in turn creates confusion for the man to why she can’t let it go because she was lecturing “…separate indigenous literary identity which was ironic considering that she was speaking English in a room full of white professors”(6). The man’s ignorance with the elderly woman’s message creates a further cultural identity struggle. Once more in the hospital, the narrator talks to another Native American man who similarly feels a divide with his culture. “The Indian world is filled with charlatan, men and women who pretend…”
In Anna Lee Walters’s story The Warriors, Walters represents a story about Native American’s cultures and traditions. The main character of her story is a Pawnee man, Uncle Ralph. He is a typical Native American and struggles with alcoholism. The Pawnee’s culture he brings to home every time deeply influences his two nieces. He usually tells Pawnee stories and teaches Pawnee language and songs to two sisters. As a whole, the author splits Pawnee culture to two aspects, customs and beliefs. In order to analyze the effect of Pawnee’s culture in tribes and families, Walter states the influence of Pawnee’s local color by describing how Uncle Ralph gets along with two sisters and the beliefs of Pawnee people live as stars after death.
I grew up in a very small town, Mifflinburg, where everyone knew everyone else’s name and business. A town in the middle of Pennsylvania where the Amish share the roads with tractors and their horse and buggies. At a young age I was adopted into this town where everything was white. White parents. White siblings. White buggies. White walls. I was an isolated insular of this ivory island. My parents did their best to make me feel like I belonged, but as I got older it became blatantly clear that I was a pariah in their porcelain precinct. The only attention I received was negative. I could see the looks of confusion in the children’s eyes, unfamiliar to color. I could hear the whispers of racial epithets. I could feel the hate over the pain as their fists made contact with my jaw.
In his essay, “Pretty like a White Boy: The Adventure of a Blue-Eyed a Ojibway,” Drew Hayden Taylor discusses his negative life experiences, and decides that he will no longer classify himself as either a White, or Native person, though he is of dual ancestry. Though he aims his essay at the Everyman, he assumes that the reader has knowledge in Native history. Taylor, the comedian mentions that he never knew his White father, and it is likely that he was raised in First Nations household. This assumption supports the ethos of his essay as a whole. While examining the thesis, Taylor makes jumps in logic that are difficult for the reader to follow, on the path to his conclusion. Taylor’s style is consistently lighthearted, and his essay is structurally sound, however, due to errors in logic, his essay appeals to the heart alone.
These constant struggles between connection and autonomy are perhaps more palpable when Arnetta called for the brownies troop to call a secret meeting to discuss what they are going to do to get even with troop 909 for allegedly calling one of them a ‘nigger’. When Laurel showed a little hesitation, the other members looked at her like she is an impediment with Arnetta stating “Snot, you are not going to be a bitch and tell Mrs. Margolin, are you?” (Packer 9). This is just one of the situations where Laurel is faced with a tough choice where she has to weigh between her autonomy and group inclusion. Therefore, through the first-person point of view, the author clearly articulates the issue of human prejudices with particular focus on
The short story, “Indian Education” by Sherman Alexie, is a summary of Alexie’s childhood during his twelve years of school. For each grade, a brief racist flashback is mentioned. Each flashback indicates why Alexie felt “lost and insignificant” (Alexie 320). Alexie is on an Indian Reservation, which makes things more difficult. He suffers injustice from his community, teachers, and classmates. This story is a biographical perspective of Alexie with a strong use of structure, setting, and diction. He uses these elements to help the reader understand his experiences throughout his childhood.
Addressing cultural stereotypes can be an extremely difficult task for many individuals, especially when the individuals themselves are being stereotyped. Sherman Alexie’s short story “Flight Patterns” brings about new ideas in regards to Native American Indian people. The main character who is a man William, completely contradicts the stereotype of the typical Indian individual. Although William defies the stereotype of the typical Native American individual he is guilty himself of giving other groups of people stereotypes as well. There are many times in Alexie’s “Flight Patterns” when common preconceptions are both questioned and answered through the thorough examination of the cultural stereotypes in the short story, the thorough discussions that take place between characters, and the
Race in the South has always been a major topic within the canon of southern literature ever since John Smith’s discussion of Native Americans in “The Generall Historie of Virginia.” The majority of this ongoing conversation on race has revolved around African Americans, white people, and Native Americans. However, in Bitter in the Mouth, Monique Truong challenges these stereotypical ideas of race in the South, namely assumptions on how race and outside appearance impact cultural identity and personal ties to southerness. Her primary strategy of doing this is the structure of the paper, where she keeps Linda’s race a secret for the first part of the novel before exploring it in-depth during the second half. Within this larger structure, she uses the juxtaposition of place to contrast southern aspects of Linda’s identity with northern culture and highlights stereotypical cultural markers of southerness such as dialect and food within Linda’s identity. With these strategies, Monique Truong uses the unique point of view of Linda Hammerick, who is racially Asian but culturally southern, to challenge the reader's assumptions of how race affects cultural identity and to expand understandings of what makes someone southern in today’s cultural landscape.
In “Snakes,” a short story written by Danielle Evans, a cruel and realistic world forms around a young black girl named Tara who is sent to stay with her grandmother for the summer. The story unfolds as the reader learns that the grandmother seems to be racially prejudiced, even towards her own granddaughter, Tara. During Tara’s stay at her grandmother’s house, she is accompanied by her cousin Allison who is white. The story centers around Tara’s attempts to remain a normal girl in the eyes of her grandmother, but struggles as her race seems to get in the way of her grandmother’s complete acceptance of her. Danielle Evans is helping the readers understand the difficulty of growing up in America as a minority. The characterization of characters in this story helps the readers understand the environment and setting of the story while implicating the major theme of race throughout the story. The story’s major theme of race follows the other story’s themes of race in Danielle Evans’ collection of short stories.
Characterization is used to address how ignorant a person can be to his or her heritage in the short story “Everyday Use,” by Alice Walker. The author shows the way of living, of a family to display the reader the way heritage is forgotten and, or ignored. In this short story the author uses a mother, and two daughters, Dee and Maggie, to demonstrate how different the thoughts are between a family and how they honor their heritage.
Sherman Alexie is a Native American man who is well known for his novels and short stories based on his experiences as a member of many different Native American tribes. In his short story “Indian Education”, Alexie details the struggles with bullying and discrimination one Native American boy went through during his time in school. Although “Indian Education” is written differently from other short stories it still conveys a solid theme and has a well written plot. Alexie’s style is also a benefit to the reader as they make their way through grade school with the main character, Victor.
Leslie Marmon Silko’s novel, Ceremony, reveals how the crossing of cultures was feared, ridiculed, and shunned in various Native American tribes. The fear of change is a common and overwhelming fear everyone faces at some point in their life. The fear of the unknown, the fear of letting go, and the fear of forgetting all play a part in why people struggle with change. In Ceremony the crossing of cultures creates “half-breeds,” usually bringing disgrace to their family’s name. In Jodi Lundgren’s discourse, “Being a Half-breed”, is about how a girl who struggles with understanding what cultural group she fits into since she is a “half-breed.” Elizabeth Evasdaughter’s essay, “Leslie Marmon Silko’s “Ceremony”: Healing Ethnic Hatred by
Note: This essay intends to explain the differences in first and third person narratives, highlighting examples within the two stories “Let them call it Jazz” and “A sense of shame”, both of which deal with racism and its subcultures in a first and third person perspective, respectively. The arguments presented are limited to that of first and third person perspectives only.
“Holy Cow, An Indian Adventure,” by Sarah MacDonald, is a book written describing Sarah’s experience living in India. She goes through many tough times and endures life changing experiences that eventually make her the person she is meant to be. In this book Sarah relates India to western perspective several times. India and the United States do have similarities, India and the United States both are run by a Democracy, they both have very strong cast systems; both have their own “Hollywood” films, and both places have many religions mixed within.