Dances With Wolves Essay

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Dances With Wolves

No matter how you choose to categorize human beings, whether by race or religion, nationality or gender, the resultant categories will display at least one immutable constant. Each group, no matter how diverse their beliefs or how dissimilar their behaviors, will contain men of honest and peaceful natures as well as men of divisive and violent natures. In the film Dances With Wolves, we are exposed to two distinct categories of people inhabiting post civil war America, the white man and the Native American. We, most likely, begin the movie with defined ideas as to which group contains honest, peaceful men and which group contains violent and savage men. We are, however, exposed to behaviors which are in opposition
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But, compassionate, thinking white men are definitely in the minority in this film.

When John begins his Westward move, the crude, maniacal white man makes his reappearance. The officer who gives John the information about getting to his new post appears to be downright insane and apparently kills himself. The guide who accompanies John to his post is also no prize. John refers to him as "the foulest man alive"(Dances with Wolves). This constant exposure to the violent and crude men who make up the white race is an effective first step in shifting our sympathies. We want to distance ourselves from these shameful characters. We don't want to identify with them.

Our first exposure to Indians is a mere suggestion of the expected stereotype. We are shown a skeleton on the ground with an arrow stuck through it. So far so good. We are accustomed to that image. Dunbar's guide states that Indians are "nothin' but thieves and beggars" and that you only want to see them when they are dead (Dances with Wolves). He, of course, is such an exemplary man that it's not ironic at all to hear him degrading someone else.

From the beginning of the film we are given hints that Dunbar is not like his fellow "ugly Americans." When John and his guide arrive at the deserted Fort, the guide is in a hurry to be away. He is nervous and uncomfortable and thinks nothing of leaving without accomplishing what he was sent to do.
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