American identity essay
To the White population, their history in the Americas begins with their mass movement into the continent to settle and cultivate cash crops. Many Europeans came from various nations because of political or religious persecution, for adventure and for many other reasons. They then settled on the American Continent and made it their home. However, they had to battle with the Native Americans also called Amerindians. To these Indians also, their history with the continent is different. Therefore, in this writing, he defines American identity as the act by the rich Americans to take care of their fellow Americans who are poor. As for Fredrick Jackson Turner, his article tends to define American identity as the progress and advancement made by the settlers and the American people in the continent.
Then Theodore Roosevelt explains for his part that American identity is the ability of Americans to stick together and face their challenges as a united people without caring about their ethnicity. Additionally, in the text, the author points out on the necessity to be truly American as the major identity for all Americans. In the next section, a discussion is made to illuminate how each text gives a different definition of American identity. In another area, the author mentions that the behavior of the Whites towards her made her feel like an alien and intimidate her. In fact, she asserts that “I sat deep into the corner of my seat, for I resented being watched” and their parents instead of reproving such a behavior that was rude just looked closely at the protagonist and attracted the children to scrutinize her further.
Still desiring to show the diversity of the people of America, the author symbolically uses the illness and eventual death of the protagonist’s best friend a means to show that the medical treatment that was offered by the Whites was different. In the story, she says, “I despised the pencils that moved automatically, and the one teaspoon that dealt out, from a large bottle”( Zitkala-S̈a, 08). This is a description of western medicine and it contrasts sharply with the kind of treatment that is being given to her father in The Soft-Hearted Sioux. Based on this explanation, the author is, therefore, accepting the fact that the American society is diverse. In this case, the diversity is created by the financial capabilities.
Even so, based on his opinion, the difference in social classes can be used positively. The rich people can contribute towards charity and help those who are poor. It is even recorded that in his life he lived according to his proposed ideas so that before he died, Carnegie donated ninety percent of his wealth for the building of a university. In fact, according to him, the American dream which is the democracy and freedom was a work done by the frontiers and this is what unites the Americans. Furthermore, the American frontier as stated by Turner established democracy and freedom through their release of the settlers form the European mindset. These people as such let go of their old ways and customs that were dysfunctional.
The frontiers have been described by the author as people who settled without having to show or exert any violence of any form. He, therefore, says that they needed neither army nor churches, but the land was free (Turner, 25). So he states, “But where immigrants, or the sons of immigrants, do not heartily and in good faith throw in their lot with us, but cling to the speech, the customs, the ways of life, and the habits of thought of the Old World which they have left, they thereby harm both themselves and us”(Sinopoli, 197). The author proceeds further to emphasize on the American identity as something that is only acquired when one is willing to leave their identity and their old self and take up the American way of life.
Consequently, in the article, the author emphasizes this theme by encouraging the immigrants to be willing to be Americanized. One significant thing that the article also points out is that the Americanization of the language also (Roosevelt). The author at some point also illuminates that the American identity is also found in the ability of the immigrants to speak American language and not to dwell in their native languages. Even though the other three authors that are, Carnegie, Turner and Theodore have all used a discussion approach to discuss the topic of American identity, they have all ended up to have different conclusions. For instance, Carnegie has concluded that American identity is found in the philanthropy of the American society. He emphasizes that the American identity can be revealed if the affluent people can contribute to the welfare of the poor so that the accumulation of wealth in the hands of the rich cannot be considered as an unfair distribution of resources.
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