TitleIndian possession and playing
NamePierucci, Christine M. (author), Blackford, Holly V (chair), Singley, Carol J (co-chair), Rutgers University, Camden Graduate School,
Indians in literature,
Twain, Mark, 1835-1910.--Adventures of Tom Sawyer,
Twain, Mark, 1835-1910--Characters--Indians
DescriptionToni Morrison's deconstructionist analysis of the Africanist presence in nineteenth century texts is complemented by analysis of Nativist presence in the same time period and beyond. While the Africanist presence, or lack thereof, helped white authors express the venture for a democratic freedom, the Nativist presence has helped—and continues to help—white authors articulate an American identity which is romantic and distinctly their own, separate from Europe. A number of texts published in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries portray Native Americans in a paradoxical way: the figure is simultaneously the quintessential villain, savage and untrustworthy, and a romantic object of play, resistant to civilization and therefore a figure to be possessed and emulated. At the core of this paradoxical representation is Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876). The novel's villain, Injun Joe, is the epitome of evil, yet the Native American is still the object of Tom's
imagination and infatuation. Even while Injun Joe is conveniently left to starve and die in an isolated setting, literally blocked from the rest of the civilization. Tom continues to "play Indian." Twain's novel appears at the transitional period between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and it captures the ideologies of playing Indian and more specifically, the American ideologies within children's literature. This perpetuation of playing Indian lessons in children's literature is one which should be challenged and critiqued. The project will begin with an interrogation of the literary-historical roots of this cultural tradition, as found in Moby-Dick, The Last of the Mohicans, and Hohomok Then, Tom Sawyer will be employed as the transitional piece between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, linking the
literary-historical accounts with more contemporary novels and films that exacerbate this trope, including Little House on the Prairie. The Catcher in the Rye, The Indian in the Cupboard, The Bean Trees, Disney's Pocahontas films, and Twentieth Century Fox's Night at the Museum. Rounding out the study is The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which proves that the American fantasy continually permeates American children's literature and culture.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references
Noteby Christine M. Pierucci
CollectionCamden Graduate School Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.