Throughout the course of American history, the literature of the nation has served to reflect the social climate of the time in which it was written. Society's values in regards to both race and gender have thus been contextualized in history by American writers. In some cases, American literary works have served to reinforce existing social boundaries, while in many other works, writers have sought to blow those boundaries apart, calling dominant assumptions into question and thus re-shaping the situation of the subordinated in public discourse.The stories of Native American tribes preceded the formation of a colonized- American identity, but they nonetheless serve as a foundation upon which such an identity could be established. What was lost in translation, as well as how these stories were read reflects the clash of Native- and European-American ideologies.
[...] The strengths of the woman are limited, however, as Lorimer falls victim to the intimidations of Clithero, from whom Sarsefield must protect her. Another example of the patriarchic depiction of woman is the young girl held captive by the Indians. Huntly comes to the rationally heroic conclusion that he should take a moment from his perilous adventure to “snatch her from death or captivity”, to rescue the “helpless being” (173). Both of these female characters are understood to be precious and vulnerable. [...]
[...] She bravely breaks the tension between the spiritual and social realms of her life, in a time when women were expected to place the maintenance of the home above all else. The destruction of her house frees her, in a way, because it not only reinforces her spiritual convictions, but also undermines her house- bound status as a woman. She puts herself outside of and above the domestic realm to which women of her time were strictly limited, and in doing so, creates a space for women to be viewed as people of legitimate faith, rather than just as slaves to the duties of the household. [...]
[...] On the other hand, she forfeits her heritage, distinguishing the dominant culture as superior to that from which she came, and thus making herself a model for White society's evolving view of the intellectual capabilities of African Americans. Another woman who stepped outside her social boundaries to make a contribution to American literature that reflects the unheard voice of women in the new nation was Anne Bradstreet. Like Phyllis Wheatley, Bradstreet emphasizes religion over social standards. In “Verses Upon the Burning of Our House”, Bradstreet writes, blest his grace that gave and took, / that laid my goods now in the dust. / Yea, so it was, and so ‘twas just”. [...]
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