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The Vanishing American: Historical Context

Powerful Essays
From the very beginning of European colonization of the New World, the Native American population has continually been dropping. Throughout the frontier history of the United States, the chief objective of the pioneering white race was to move the savages aside by any way necessary, in order to settle the vast landscape of the continent. It was not until the Indian population was almost entirely wiped out that American society took an interest in the phenomenon of the perishing native race. Going along with societal trends, renown Western novelist Zane Grey published a work focused on the doomed people. "The Vanishing American apart, none of Grey's novels were ever made into really important movies;" but, like other Zane adaptations, this 1925 Native American epic "retained the values of his story" (Everson 170). Remaining loyal to the author's ideals, The Vanishing American focuses on the plight of a vanquished tribe living in a world in which the ill-fated rarely receive a second chance. Understanding the theory of the Vanishing American can best be achieved by first identifying with the history of European settling of the New World. For evidence of popular thought dealing with the natives of America during the beginning of European exploration, one must look no further than the works of William Shakespeare. The Tempest clearly presents the racial superiority, which its English audience supposed they possessed over the people of the New World, as an obvious fact. "To theatergoers Caliban (the savage native) represented what Europeans had been when they were lower on the scale of development" (Takaki 32). As America began to be further developed, the savagery seen in the natives somehow began to connect them to evil ... ... middle of paper ... ...Wesleyan UP, 1982. Everson, William K., and George N. Fenin. The Western: from silents to the seventies. New York: Grossman Publishers, 1973. Iverson, Peter. The Navajo Nation. Albuquerque: University Of New Mexico Press, 1981 Jackson, Andrew. "5th Annual Message December 3, 1833." Andrew Jackson 1829-1837 Indian Land Cessions in the American Southeast. TNGenNet Inc, 2002. http://www.tngenweb.org/cessions/jackson.html. Jefferson, Thomas. "Jefferson to Banneker August 30, 1791." The Works of Thomas Jefferson vol. 6. Ed. Paul Ford. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1904. Takaki, Ronald. A Different Mirror. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 1993. Vanishing American, The. Dir. George B. Seitz. Perf. Richard Dix, Lois Wilson, Noah Beery, and Malcolm McGregor. Paramount Pictures, 1925.
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