Native Guard Essay

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Egstrand 1 Alyssa Egstrand Professor Sewell ENG: The Literary Experience 1331 28 September 2011 Investigating the Impact of History on Modern Society within Natasha Trethewey’s Native Guard Rooted in the shadows of history, Native Guard by Natasha Trethewey intertwines personal and historical accounts to scrutinize the impact of the past on the present. Trethewey’s Native Guard is divided into three sections, which chronicle her mother’s life and death, the erased history of the Louisiana Native Guard, and Trethewey’s childhood in Mississippi. These different stories amalgamate, and open a dialogue about the impact of history on today’s world. Throughout Native Guard Trethewey infuses emotion into these untold stories by including personal…show more content…
Trethewey’s use of the terms ‘tangle’ and ‘dialectic’ highlights conflict of intermingling black and white opinions. Furthermore, Trethewey also alludes to the past by claiming there is an ‘understory’ to these dissimilarities, one rooted in ingrained Southern prejudices. Her insightful word choice in both these instances emphasizes lingering racial conflicts, which consequentially reinforces the idea of the past’s influence on the modern-day society. To contrast the description of the pine grove, Trethewey includes the palmetto plants. The references to palmetto plants complicate the metaphor, but also enable Trethewey to address the influence of perpetual Southern racial intolerance on ethnic discrimination today. Trethewey equates this sentiment with the palmetto plant, and its establishment on the southern coast, a “…coast/ clear cut…// mangrove, live oak, gulfweed/ razed and replaced by thin palms—/ palmettos—symbols of victory//or defiance” (9-14). The Palmetto plant has a grand stature in the South, standing for both the triumphs of the Revolutionary War, and stigma of the Confederacy. The “palmetto became symbolic after the Battle of Fort Moultrie in 1776”, where the American troops used palmetto logs to defeat the British (“South Carolina Palmetto Flag”). But, this symbol, which once stood for freedom and victory, was tainted in 1861 when it was adopted as the official emblem of the South Carolinian flag once state seceded from the Union (“South Carolina
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