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Civil War in “The American Tradition in Literature”

The Favorite Readings

The abstract Continuation of the Discoveries Along the Coast of the Almouchiquois, and What We Observed in Detail by Samuel de Champlain is a great example of a narrative, which presents remote places and culture. His writing is created in the form of a diary and gives readers a feeling of exploring the land themselves. Numerous descriptions of people, their homes, and nature, which is described by the author as “very attractive and beautiful” (Champlain 27), set an adventurous mood. This work may serve as a reminder of how green America was before the arrival of the European civilization.

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The abstract from A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson by Mary Rowlandson is filled with ideas of Puritanism. Even facing the tragedy of Indians attacking the house and killing a lot of her family members, Mrs. Rowlandson holds on to her faith in God, claiming that the “help is always in him” (Rowlandson 127). Although full of the cruelty elements, the story is truly inspiring, showing how strong were the women of the old days when they were supported, to their belief, by divine forces.

The text from Common Sense by Thomas Paine presents the idea of the American independence, which was just developing at that time. This abstract presents a very persuasive argument about the reasons for why Britain, whose “motive was interest, not attachment” (Paine 373), must not be in command of America. The Paine’s work is full of the freedom spirit so crucial for the American culture built by people fleeing from the European orders.

The Least Favorite Readings

On the contrary, A Posthumous Writing of Diedrich Knickerbocker, a part of the Rip Van Winkle story by Washington Irving, does not fit in the progressive American idea. The character of Rip Van Winkle makes a negative impression because of his attitude towards family and work. According to the author, he was “ready to attend to anybody’s business but his own” (Irving 575), which contradicts with American values of hard labor and family importance. It is the case of an unattractive main character in the Romantic literature.

The Report on the First Voyage by Christopher Columbus is an example of prejudice towards people of other cultures common to Europeans of those times. Columbus did not value the generosity of the Indians, thinking they act “like animals, gave what they had” (Columbus 33). Although he did not let his people trade unfairly with the Indians, he, nevertheless, did not recognize their level of freedom and was entirely subject to serving his King.

The abstract from The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano by Olaudah Equiano is emotionally hard. The author’s story of a slave watching the hardships of his fellows on a ship and concluding the fact of “the cruelty of the whites” (Equiano 386) is touching, yet uninspiring. There is no trace of fighting for freedom, which is disappointing, for it brings an idea of how different would the history be if slaves fought for their rights themselves.

Conclusion

The course material provided an in-depth insight into the Civil War reasoning and the main issues, which had faced the early Americans. Although there were readings, which did not present some groups of people in a positive manner, the overall impression is good, for the course gave an understanding on why the American culture is so distinct from every other. The American Tradition in Literature book is helpful for reasoning the historical events.

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Works Cited

Champlain, Samuel de. “Continuation of the Discoveries Along the Coast of the Almouchiquois, and What We Observed in Detail.” The American Tradition in Literature, edited by George Perkins, vol. 1, McGraw-Hill, 2002, pp. 26-30.

Columbus, Christopher. “Report on the First Voyage.” The American Tradition in Literature, 12th ed., edited by George Perkins, vol. 1, McGraw-Hill, 2008, pp. 31-33.

Equiano, Olaudah. “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano.” The American Tradition in Literature, 12th ed., edited by George Perkins, vol. 1, McGraw-Hill, 2008, pp. 383-387.

Irving, Washington. “A Posthumous Writing of Diedrich Knickerbocker.” The American Tradition in Literature, edited by George Perkins, vol. 1, McGraw-Hill, 2002, pp. 574-576.

Paine, Thomas. “Common Sense.” The American Tradition in Literature, edited by George Perkins, vol. 1, McGraw-Hill, 2002, pp. 371-376.

Rowlandson, Mary. “A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson.” The American Tradition in Literature, edited by George Perkins, vol. 1, McGraw-Hill, 2002, pp. 126-129.

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