By Lindsey Claire Smith
Indians, atmosphere, and identification at the Borders of yank Literature foregrounds amalgamation between American Indians, African american citizens, and Euramericans as a critical function of yank literature. The authors mentioned, together with James Fenimore Cooper, William Faulkner, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, and Leslie Marmon Silko, position this cross-cultural touch in nature, not just collapsing cultural and racial barriers, but additionally complicating divisions among “wilderness” and “civilization.” Responding to modern theoretical ways to race, tradition, and nationhood, this publication issues towards the a number of views and cultures that distinguish American literature. Smith highlights the function of geography in those serious discourses, forging a connection among ecological thought and ethnic reports.
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Extra resources for Indians, Environment, and Identity on the Borders of American Literature: From Faulkner and Morrison to Walker and Silko (American Literature Readings in the Twenty-First Century)
Although it is true that the word savage is applied at least 53 times to the Iroquois and only twice to the Delaware, it is Natty Bumppo, not Cooper, who is most fond of the term” (55). Bumppo’s obsession with proving his white legitimacy while also demonstrating hunting and battle skills that are commensurate with the Mohicans is crucial to understanding his characterization; indeed, unlike Cora’s determined resolve, Bumppo’s disposition seems to be the most conflicted in the novel. Critics have provided many explanations for this conflicted portrayal, the most popular being that Bumppo finds himself to be morally superior to and therefore severed from European society yet not quite authentic enough—through blood or culture—to be Indian.
The fishes of the salt lake, the birds, the beasts, and the Mengwee of the woods, owned them for Sagamores” (361). It seems that Cora recognizes the validity of the Tamenund’s argument, as she at last bows her head and “struggle[s] with her chagrin” (361). Further, the Tamenund highlights the negative traits he has observed among the “palefaces,” particularly their abhorrence of intermarriage, saying, “The dogs and crows of their tribes . . would bark and caw CROSS-CULTURAL HYBRIDITY 25 before they would take a woman to their wigwams whose blood was not of the color of snow” (362).
Most obviously, Bumppo’s tiresome reminders of his white purity suggest that he is protesting too much. Further, Cooper’s description of Bumppo’s appearance contradict the character’s evaluation of himself as of the same background as Gamut and Heyward. ” Although some may conclude that this line refers to Cooper’s American Indians, it is instead most analogous to Bumppo’s appearance. In comparing Bumppo to Chingachgook, Cooper writes, “While one of these loiterers showed the red skin and wild accouterments of a native of the woods, the other exhibited, through the mask of his rude and nearly savage equipments, the brighter though sunburnt and long-faded complexion of one who might claim descent from a European parentage” (32, italics mine).