Essay PreviewMore ↓
William Apes, in his essay "An Indian's Looking-Glass for the White Man," argues that to profess Christianity and still distinguish between races is a hypocrisy not supported by the Bible. In the first part of his essay Apes asks several questions such as why, if God loves white people so much, did he create fifteen colored people for every white one; and of all the races, who has committed the most heinous crimes? He goes on to emphasize that neither Jesus nor his disciples were white skinned. He also questions the white person's right to control Native Americans. Apes asks his predominately white, Christian audience to reexamine their own prejudices and concludes his essay pleading "pray you not stop till this tree of distinction shall be leveled to the earth, and the mantle of prejudice torn from every American heart--then peace shall pervade the Union."
Apes accurately portrays the racism that Native Americans suffer. Racism exists in both the individual and within politics. During the late 1800's, when this article was written, it was illegal in Massachusetts for whites and Indians to intermarry. He labels this as a clear infringement on individuals to make their own decisions. He also raises the point that many white people do not even consider the Indian to be qualified for the rights of an individual. This dehumanization allows white people to steal the Indians' land and murder them with out a second thought. He calls on the whites, as Christians, to reassess these racist views. People cannot call themselves Christians and persecute others, based on skin color, in the name of Christianity. Apes says that words must be supplemented by actions, backing himself up with scripture such as I John 3:18, "Let us not love in word but in deed." Although Apes convincingly argues against the biases within the Christian community, he bases his arguments on several assumptions, neglecting to address problems such as the language barrier and problems that arise when two different cultures try to occupy the same land.
When Apes uses Christianity as his tool to dispel racism he makes several unbacked assumptions. To begin with, he forgets that whites and Indians rarely use the same language let alone have the same religious values, therefore no one tool can be used for both cultures. Besides just the obvious language barrier, whites and Indians use entirely different words and phrases to express concepts.
How to Cite this Page
"Truth Exposed in An Indian's Looking-Glass for the White Man." 123HelpMe.com. 10 Dec 2019
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- The power within the mind provides people with the opportunity to create an illusion of one’s life. These illusions sprout from dreams that often are unobtainable, as they strive to reach perfection in life which is known to be impossible. The mind crafted images provide people with an outlet to escape the terrifying truth of reality. Shielding oneself from reality is only a temporary solution, and can create social struggles as well as tension. The struggle between wanting to live in a fantasy of dreams to escape the world, and accepting the hardships of reality has existed in society since the beginning of time.... [tags: The Glass Menagerie, Tennessee Williams, Truth]
1307 words (3.7 pages)
- Power Relations Exposed in Truth and Power In "Truth and Power" Michel Foucault revisits the major theoretical trends and questions of his career. He is a thinker who knows no bounds of subject or field. His ideas stretch from literature to science, from psychology to labor. He deals in a currency that is accepted everywhere: truth and power. Foucault spends much of his career tracing the threads of truth and power as they intertwine with the history of human experience. He especially loves to study asylums and prisons because they are close to an encapsulated power structure.... [tags: Truth and Power Essays]
1363 words (3.9 pages)
- The world is crafted through humanity’s perceptions, shaped by their shared experiences of the world, yet differentiated by each individual experience. Within The Glass Menagerie, by Tennessee Williams, the ideas of overwhelming truth, individual perceptions, and the flaws of humanity are all explored. Through the various characters, with a specific focus on Tom’s narration, Williams argues that the truth is only a subjective idea that is created through the perceptions of humankind, molded through humanity’s flaws.... [tags: Literary Analysis ]
2260 words (6.5 pages)
- Escape in The Glass Menagerie In Tennessee Williams' play, The Glass Menagerie, none of the characters are capable of living in the real world. Laura, Amanda, Tom and Jim use various methods to escape the brutalities of life. Laura retreats into a world of glass animals and old gramophone records. Amanda is obsessed with living in her past. Tom escapes into his world of poetry writing and movies. Jim also reverts to his past and remembers the days when he was a hero. Laura retreats into a world of glass animals and old gramophone records.... [tags: Glass Menagerie essays]
1031 words (2.9 pages)
- The Truth Exposed in A Clockwork Orange Alex, the fifteen-year-old narrator of Anthony Burgess's novel, A Clockwork Orange, lives in a society where violence reigns. This novel has a very direct nature, and is often blunt to the point of offense, but this makes it more powerful and helps to further its point. This point is that everyone is out for themselves, whether they be the police, government or citizens of this society. In this book, the police can be just as violent as Alex and his droogs, or gang. In fact, by the end of the novel, his droogs have themselves become the police. The police have no qualms about beating people almost to the point... [tags: Clockwork Orange Essays]
998 words (2.9 pages)
- Appearance Versus Reality in Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie In any Tennessee Williams' play, nothing is as it seems. Everything represents more than itself. Williams' creative use of symbols creates a drama that far exceeds the apparent or surface level. Williams himself admits that "art is made out of symbols the way your body is made out of the vital tissue," and that "symbols are nothing but the natural speech of drama [. . . ,] the purest language of plays [. . . ; S]ometimes it would take page after tedious page of exposition to put across an idea that could be said with an object or a gesture on the lighted stage" (Demastes 174).... [tags: Glass Menagerie Essays]
3114 words (8.9 pages)
- The Truth of War Exposed in A Farewell to Arms The soldier takes his last breath as he faces the menacing glare of the beast known as the enemy gun. Emotions run through him as he awaits the final blow that will determine his destiny. Memories flash through his mind, none of which will be of any significance once he leaves this world. Out of the barrel of the gun, had suddenly come terror, murder, and chaos, all at once. "I say it's rotten. Jesus Christ, I say it's rotten." (Hemingway 35) Summarized in two sentences is Ernest Hemingway's personal attitude towards World War I. In A Farewell to Arms by Hemingway, the characters criticize the war and views it as the sourc... [tags: Farewell Arms Essays]
1049 words (3 pages)
- The Truth of War Exposed in Hobbes’ Leviathan Conflict, or the prospect thereof, concerns individuals, instilling a great deal of fear in their hearts and minds. Hobbes’ Leviathan differs from our present conception of war, as a typically united act by a patriotic nation. The concept of war constructed by Hobbes presents the idea of limitless enemies, wherein every man has the potential to damage the life or well-being of any other man. According to Hobbes, war consumes everything, constructing its own conception of time and eliminating every other necessary or inherently valuable activity.... [tags: Hobbes Leviathan]
812 words (2.3 pages)
- Truth Exposed in Amusing Ourselves to Death Neil Postman is deeply worried about what technology can do to a culture or, more importantly, what technology can undo in a culture. In the case of television, Postman believes that, by happily surrendering ourselves to it, Americans are losing the ability to conduct and participate in meaningful, rational public discourse and public affairs. Or, to put it another way, TV is undoing public discourse and, as the title of his book Amusing Ourselves to Death suggests, we are willing accomplices.... [tags: Postman Amusing Ourselves to Death Essays]
1507 words (4.3 pages)
- In Tennessee Williams‘ play The Glass Menagerie, the audience believes that the menagerie simply refers to a glass collection owned by Laura Wingfield. Laura lives with her brother Tom and her mother Amanda. Due to her mother‘s desire for her to marry, Jim‘s introduction to the play is one as a gentleman caller. When Laura describes her glass animals to Jim, she uses her mother‘s term ―glass menagerie‖ (Williams 414) for them. All of the figures are glass, but the animals in it vary, and thus fit, one definition of the word.... [tags: The Glass Menagerie 2014]
1142 words (3.3 pages)
- Search for Identity in It’s Hard Enough Being Me
- Exploring Fear in Howl, Basketball Diaries, and Cat's Cradle
- Glass Menagerie and Streetcar Named Desire - Comparing Amanda Wingfield and Blanche Dubois
- Essay on Fame in Djerassi’s Cantor's Dilemma
- Cutie as a Metaphor of the Mind in Asimov's Reason
- Free Essays: Destructive Competition Exposed in Cantor's Dilemma
Another assumption Apes makes is that Indians and whites exist on the same social level. From the beginning of European and Indian relations, Europeans have reduced Indians to a sub-human level thereby justifying cruel treatment towards Native Americans. Columbus, in his search for gold, God and glory, discovered not only a new land but a new people. He favorably described their physical attributes, yet "in his mind they were just another animal" (Nash 12). While collecting botanical specimens he even "collected seven natives" (12). These beliefs of native inferiority permeated Europe and stayed with settlers when they colonized the New World. John Winthrop arrived in Massachusetts over one hundred years after Columbus with the same feelings of superiority. Like Apes, Winthrop was a religious man. However, he used the Bible, not to promote peace and equality, but to justify stealing Native American land. Quoting Genesis 1:28, "fill the earth and subdue it; you are the masters of the fish and birds and all the animals," he assumes the right to cultivate and control the land. Winthrop felt people, such as himself, were sent by God to civilize the land, and like Columbus he did not consider the Indians to be human beings (Nash 29). Apes, too, describes the theft of the Indians' land and resources: "they...think it no crime to go upon Indian lands and cut and carry off their most valuable timber, or anything else they choose. . . ." To him, though, the people losing the land are not savages but his people; and it is not just land they are losing but a home. Apes assumes he is talking to an equal group of people when he addresses whites and Indians. What he ignores is that many white people do not even consider Native Americans human, let alone on equal social standing with white people.
Apes's final assumption is that Native Americans and Europeans have the same feelings towards the land. Struggles over the land stem from one basic point: the two groups simply view land in two different ways, and are never able to reconcile their opposing views. The land that Winthrop thought needed to be tamed and cultivated to be of any productivity was already providing resources for thousands of other people. Europeans only considered cultivated land to be owned by tribes, thereby not accepting the validity of prior claims to hunting grounds (Norton 30). Native Americans did not believe in ownership of the land, they thought of it as a gift; therefore they did not assume the right to buy or sell it. In dealing with the Europeans, Native Americans carried these views with them. Native Americans saw themselves not as selling the land but merely allowing the Europeans the right to share it. Europeans felt much different about the negotiations. Land was the property of the person who had paid for it, they were not borrowing the land but purchasing it. It was impossible for Europeans and Native Americans to reach an understanding over the land because of their different cultural beliefs.
Nash and Graves's biography of Tecumseh details these different perceptions of land. The same principles of taming the land that Winthrop used in the foundation of the Massachusetts Bay Colony horrified Tecumseh. He, like most other Indians, believed in the sacredness of the land. What was known as cultivating by the Europeans was perceived as rape by the Indians. Shawnee tradition did not allow the use of metal tools to plough the earth (160). Fundamental differences such as these made it impossible for Europeans and Indians to agree on the correct usage of the land.
Indians originally wanted to share the land and resources. Amerigo Vespucci and others noted their amiable nature (Steiner 77). Europeans did not understand this concept and wanted the land to themselves. One reason for the excessive greediness was the search for gold. Columbus was known to dole out harsh punishments on Indians who did not provide a sufficient amount of gold (Nash 14). One Native American woman says of the situation, "We welcomed you with open arms. . . . Maybe that is where we made our mistake" (Steiner 77). Native Americans quickly lost their giving spirit and began to retaliate.
Native Americans have been murdered, cheated and exploited from the first moment Europeans arrived in this hemisphere. They have repeatedly trusted Europeans and made treaties only to have those treaties ignored by the same white men who made them. Steiner's essay is encouraging Native Americans to stop taking this treatment silently and fight back. Apes simultaneously asks the whites to treat Native Americans better as he tells Native Americans to once again turn the other cheek. Steiner completely disagrees; he believes that turning the other cheek is the reason Native Americans have received the treatment they have. Caught in a no win situation, by retaliating Native Americans are almost in as bad of position as they were when they were silent. Through the retaliations Native Americans gained the reputation as vicious savages. Generals in the frontier, such as Custer believed the Indian had a "cruel and ferocious nature" (Steiner 79). Steiner refutes this by describing the white man's pernicious crimes against the Indian. He vividly describes the butchery of innocent women and children. He makes the claim that the violence of the Indians does not come close to the violence committed against them. Steiner and Apes agree that of all the races whites have committed the most heinous crimes against another race (Apes 543). But while Steiner is working solely towards the advancement of the Native Americans, Apes is still hoping for equality between the races. Apesss goal is equality and brotherhood between the Native Americans and Indians. This dream is nearly impossible when two different groups cannot even come to terms with their fundamental differences. Fear of each other led to prejudices and hatred which eventually led to war. Indians and Europeans have been in continuous struggle from their very first meeting through less than 40 years ago. Apes wants Native Americans and Europeans to put aside their differences and engage in a discussion, but people cannot start talking until they stop fighting.
In his essay, Apes makes one valid point very clear: no one race of people have the right to control any other race of people. However, to make his point he glosses over many vital problems. Not all people are Christians or even speak the same language, and not everyone has the same respect of the land that is common among Native Americans. Native Americans have been ill-treated for hundreds of years and it is uncertain if they would even want to make peace with white people. Apes tries to bridge the gap between two warring sides using one religion and one language, but he is caught with an unanswerable question When talking to two different cultures; whose terms should be used, the white man's or the Indian's?
Apes, William. "An Indian¹s Looking Glass for the White Man." Inventing America: Readings in Identity and Culture. Eds. Gabriella Ibieta and Miles Orvell. New York: St. Martin¹s, 1996. 540-546.
Nash, Roderick and Gregory Graves. From These Beginnings: A Biographical Approach to American History. 5th ed. Volume 1. New York: Harper Collins, 1995.
Norton, Mary Beth, et al. A People and a Nation: A History of the United States. 4th ed. Volume A. Boston: Houghton, 1996.
Steiner, Stan. The New Indians. New York: Delta, 1968.