American Horse by Louise Erdrich Essay

American Horse by Louise Erdrich Essay

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Louise Erdrich’s short story “American horse” is a literary piece written by an author whose works emphasize the American experience for a multitude of different people from a plethora of various ethnic backgrounds. While Erdrich utilizes a full arsenal of literary elements to better convey this particular story to the reader, perhaps the two most prominent are theme and point of view. At first glance this story seems to portray the struggle of a mother who has her son ripped from her arms by government authorities; however, if the reader simply steps back to analyze the larger picture, the theme becomes clear. It is important to understand the backgrounds of both the protagonist and antagonists when analyzing theme of this short story. Albetrine, who is the short story’s protagonist, is a Native American woman who characterizes her son Buddy as “the best thing that has ever happened to me”. The antagonist, are westerners who work on behalf of the United States Government. Given this dynamic, the stage is set for a clash between the two forces. The struggle between these two can be viewed as a microcosm for what has occurred throughout history between Native Americans and Caucasians. With all this in mind, the reader can see that the theme of this piece is the battle of Native Americans to maintain their culture and way of life as their homeland is invaded by Caucasians. In addition to the theme, Erdrich’s usage of the third person limited point of view helps the reader understand the short story from several different perspectives while allowing the story to maintain the ambiguity and mysteriousness that was felt by many Natives Americans as they endured similar struggles. These two literary elements help set an underlying atmos...


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...omments on how the story itself draws many comparisons between her life and American Horse. Another example of the acclaim this story received can be found in “The Journal of the Short Story in English”, where the website states that Erdrich is able to add a new dynamic to this particular story in the sense that it is unique from all her other works while she still maintains her own personal style such as using multiple point of views.

Like any other novel or short story, a lot can be learned about the actual story by understanding the historical content embedded in the piece. Louise Erdrich draws from her her imagination, life experiences, and social climate to piece together American Horse into a fictitious short story that somehow manages to give the reader a very real sense of the socioeconomic divide between the two groups portrayed in the story.

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