Lessons of Equality, Understanding, and Tolerance in Disney’s Pocahontas

Satisfactory Essays
Lessons of Equality, Understanding, and Tolerance in Disney’s Pocahontas


[1] The children’s movie Pocahontas is an attempt by Disney to promote racial tolerance, equality, and understanding. Most of this movie is not historically accurate, yet an important message can still be learned using the characters from long ago. The first contact scene between Pocahontas and John Smith (0:28.34) demonstrates the importance of racial tolerance by showing strengths and weaknesses in both characters. By making neither character the sole initiator in this scene, there is no favoritism towards one culture or the other. Disney also uses symbolism in the surrounding environment and music to help support this point.

The Exchange of Roles

[2] Pocahontas and John Smith exchange the task of being the initiator in the first contact scene. After viewing this portion many times, it is clear that Disney wanted to create a first contact that demonstrates equality among the two cultures. Pocahontas and John Smith both show weaknesses and strengths, which deems neither character to be the superior race. Also, by exchanging the roles, each character is given a chance to show understanding and the desire to create a peaceful contact situation. An important message to children is that understanding is an essential element in creating a peaceful and communicative relationship between cultures and within cultures.

[3] The scene begins with Pocahontas in the forest looking down at Smith drinking water at the waterfall. She shows interest in the different looking man and wants a better view. She begins a tiger-like creep towards a new lookout spot at which he catches her reflection in the water. Smith quickly hides and loads his gun so that he can be ready when the Native appears. This situation demonstrates curiosity in both characters as they seemingly “hunt” each other out. She is portrayed as an animal-like figure, trying to blend in with the surroundings. Disney is trying to show the strong relationship between Native Americans and the environment. Pocahontas’s creep also deems her as being the initial predator and Smith the prey.

[4] The next exchanging of roles occurs when Smith jumps out from behind the waterfall to protect himself from any threatening forces. He is perceived as being very aggressive until he sees Pocahontas through the parting fog.
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