american character - then and now

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American Character - Then and Now A notion that still holds strong today, Fredrick Jackson Turner’s idea of American character was one based on trials and experiences. Unlike Crevecour, Turner believed that American character was not simply a product of English character transported to America, but rather another idea altogether (Faragher 63). He expressed this opinion the best when he said, “In the crucible of the frontier the immigrants were Americanized, liberated, and fused into a mixed race, English in neither nationality nor characteristics” (Faragher 64). How exactly did American character form and what defines it? Turner answered this question with the Turner thesis, using the concept of the pioneer and the immigrants who followed him to explain the western frontier and its expansion (Faragher 70). The following paragraphs will help describe how American character has manifested itself in today’s society by integrating ideas from Frederick Jackson Turner, Charles Wilson Peale, and heroes depicted in different forms of entertainment during the rise and fall of the western frontier. In Rereading America “The Significance of the Frontier in American History”, ideas from an author of A New Guide for Immigrants (Mid-American Frontier) by the name of Peck were used to further stress the significance of the Turner thesis in our world today (Peck 42). In his book, Peck identified three different stages or waves of western civilization. The first stage is sort of the epitome of what is now recognized to be American character: the pioneer or farmer (Peck 43). This was a man who provided for his family by depending on vegetation and hunting. He did not care whether the land he temporarily occupied was in his ownership or not. When the area became too civilized, the pioneer moved on to make new discoveries and left his soil and house for the new wave of immigrants. Thus, introducing the second stage of western civilization. These immigrants purchased the pioneer’s land and created a way of life best described as frugal and simple, consisting of school houses and mills (Peck 44). The third and final stage, labeled as “the men of capital and enterprise”, is when the small villages created by the immigrants became... ... middle of paper ... ...obstacle (in this case the rocky hill), and do not stop at anything to conquer this challenge. This ad also shows the toughness and rugged individuality of American character seen during the western frontier. By turning “…50 miles of the earth’s toughest into a yard stick,” the ad portrays the American man as being capable of doing anything . The Jeep itself is an important product all in its own, providing a sense of power and outdoors sporting, this can also be seen in SUVs like the HummerH2: big and bad. (Cosmopolitan, 297) Whether it is an ad, an educational program, or a job interview, the air of American character still echoes throughout America today. It may not be seen in the struggling to provide for one’s family in today’s society, but rather the struggling of immigrants from the past helps give America an identity. In the end, American character is not just one aspect of life, particularly the first western frontier, but it consists of many waves of this western frontier, which ironically resulted in its disappearance. Thus, the close of the western frontier opened a new chapter in American life, American character, and the American dream.
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