american character - then and now Essay

2086 Words 9 Pages
               American Character - Then and Now

     A notion that still holds strong today, Fredrick Jackson Turner’s idea of American character was one based on trials and experiences. Unlike Crevecour, Turner believed that American character was not simply a product of English character transported to America, but rather another idea altogether (Faragher 63). He expressed this opinion the best when he said, “In the crucible of the frontier the immigrants were Americanized, liberated, and fused into a mixed race, English in neither nationality nor characteristics” (Faragher 64). How exactly did American character form and what defines
…show more content…
The combination of the Turner thesis and Peck’s translation of it, provided a foundation that would help form American identity: individualism and collectivity. A perfect example of this today is the sport of baseball, America’s pastime.
     By the time Turner presented his thesis in 1893 at the Colombian Exhibition in Chicago, the myth of the cowboy and the myth of the frontier had already made their way into novels for the enjoyment of east coasters who were curious of the west (Cullen 127). Characters like Buffalo Bill, Nathaniel (Natty) Bumpo, and Daniel Boone helped illustrated American character. The introduction of “she-males,” women with feminine and masculine qualities, were also an important feature of these novels west (Cullen 127). Characters like Jane, from Calamity Jane by Edward L. Wheeler, were like predecessors of women rights; they were heroines who demanded and received, but remained kindhearted at the same time (Faber all).      
     Although all of these characters had a very profound role in molding people’s impression of the west, the novel which combined many individual roles of each western into one was probably The Virginian by Own Wister. This novel was so influential in helping to engrave American character in that it incorporated Turner’s idea of the disappearing
Open Document