The Myth Of An American Road Trip Essay

The Myth Of An American Road Trip Essay

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The myth of an American Road Trip is one that has existed in some way or another for nearly as long as European settlers came to North America. Even the very migration of European protestants to the New World could be seen as reflective of the same aspirations of road trippers today. To explore, seek, and see beyond the surrounding of their early years. In many ways, it is also possible to think of the Oregon Trail as the first and ultimate road trip before the advent of the automobile. These first road trippers were some of the first to truly go bolding into the unchartered and vast lands of the American West. Many films portray a common story of coming of age through the frame of a road trip. The 1991 film, Thelma and Louise, two adult women have their own spin on a rebirth of sorts that accompanies their road trip adventure. The urge to suddenly travel to unknown places with no obvious destination in mind appears to be a purely American tradition that had upheld the test of time. Even today a simple search of road trip supplies endless tips, routes, and ideas for individuals to build their own adventure. One particular article finished a summary of their trip with a quote by American Author Mark Twain proclaiming that, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…”
In Virgin Land, Smith writes about how part of the expansion of the United States was encouraged by an urge for these early Americans to turn their back son traditional European thought and pattern of development. Consequently, many road trip films start out with young adults trying to forge a new path from themselves, often running away from or rejecting their parental figures and their current cultural surroundings. When looking for road trip bo...


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...he experience that goes along with it is something that can be shared across the gender and age lines.
Smoke Signals, appears to be making a similar argument that the American road trip can also be shared across racial and socioeconomic lines. The characters here do not drive off into the sunset in a convertible car all to themselves. For much of their journey they are traveling either on foot, as hitchhikers, or on a shuttle bus across the country, much of which they have never seen. This take on the American road trip flips the traditional norms, the idea that a person of indigenous heritage could feel so out of place and lost in the largest spaces of the United States, is a commentary on the treatment of American’s native peoples. However, this argues and shows that the sense of adventure and restless nature transcends across the lines of heritage and ethnicity.

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