Monday, 30 March 2015

Immigration in America - Pro-immigration.

For my two sites i have chosen to focus largely on websites that are for or against immigration in general. i have made this decision because Latino and Hispanic people are such a large amount of the immigrating population most of the time they can be considered the main group under question hen talking about immigration and certainly the largest group by far withing the status of illegal immigrants which is the biggest problem being approached by any group or policy that focuses on immigration, the most common aim among all immigration reformists -both those that are for immigration and those that are are as extreme as shutting off all the borders completely- is to secure the borders to prevent more illegal immigration.
While no one is 'for' illegal immigration some are less against it than others. The website is one you could consider on the less against it than others, for example it displays advocacy for both securing the borders and for allowing illegal immigrants ho are already in the country a pathway to citizenship.
This website is very clearly the better funded website, it boasts its large numbers of support from wealthy people of notability for example; Mark Zukerburg. The websites snazzy design helps it gain credibility and really draws the viewer in. It hides its core values away pretty deep to the extent that you need to actively search for them within the website. This, I think is because what the website is promoting is, in America at least, an incredibly unpopular view, to just 'allow' immigrants to 'take over the country with their cultures'. America is fundamentally conservative and this is why the message is hidden so well, so that people will be drawn in by the fancy graphics and big names, they might convince themselves that they agree with the message before they even know it.

 The American Immigration Control Foundation - Anti-immigration

Unlike the other website this one is incredibly straight to the point, as can be guessed this is the side that holds a more popular viewpoint in the USA and so doesn't need to hide behind any fancy graphics or big names to improve its popularity. The website is that of a pressure group which boasts grassroots action on the immigration issues and it is soon evident that the group is on the extreme ends of conservatism, if not from its hard line 'deport all illegal immigrants, shut off all borders' approach but from the fact that it has a link near the bottom of the page to an article calling Obama a dictator, or at least a president with the intentions to become a dictator. Such extreme opinions will always attract attention regardless of whether its positive attention that people give when they agree with an opinion or negative that people give when they're so outraged with said opinion that they read it anyway because people are weird and like to be outraged enough to seek it out.

Latino Rebels vs. Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)

Latino Rebels - Pro-Latino immigration

Latino Rebels is a report style website giving constantly and consistently updated articles surrounding here entitled 'Immigration Reform and the Lies "Pro" Migrant Nonprofits Use to Gain Support". Luis Serrano is the author of this article and states 'non-profits in favor of “comprehensive immigration reform” under the banner of  Reform Immigration for America, Alliance for Citizenship, America’s Voice and others demanded the government open up to have a vote on the bill currently in the House. As an undocumented immigrant I am familiar with the solutions discussed within our community and I want you to know there is a difference between the human rights we want and the inhumane reforms people ask for in our name.' Serrano is clearly opinionated towards this field and what he is saying is that as an illegal immigrant he knows what would benefit his community and the organisations that stand for the Latino community are supporting inhuman standards. 
Latino society within the United States, I found an article

Serrano actually rather looks at the issues of standards, care and human rights of the Latino community, though he is discussing immigration reform throughout his article he is more focused on the issues with deportation, incarceration and legibility and accessibility to becoming citizens, which suggests he is pro-immigration of both legal and illegal Latino immigrants (partially suggested due to the fact he is an illegal immigrant too). It seems as if he wants free migration into the states and then an accessibility to jobs, money and freedom without any problems from the law. 

The subtitle of Serrano's last paragraph is 'Dear President Obama: Stop deportations and give deferred action to all!' I am trying to give an objective and reasoned view just as Serrano appears to believe he is doing but this is just simply ridiculous. Who could possibly think stopping deportations and deferring action is the right way to go, Serrano says he's working for the Latino community but if everyone was given this free ride that he expects to be handed to him and his community where does that leave the Latino's who did work hard to ensure they weren't deported, and eventually achieved their citizenship, where does that leave the Mexican families who saved up their money to enter the United States legally. Moreover where does that leave all immigrant communities, not just Latino, but Polish, Irish, Chinese etc. 

This is not a solution but it is Serrano's and Latino Rebel's view of a pro-Latino immigration reform.

Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) - anti-immigration (not explicitly specific to Latino immigration)

The trouble with anti-immigration organisations is that they always call it a reform and do not in any way shape or form want to appear racist simply due to the fact that it closes their demographic and audience down dramatically meaning they will have less support. That is not to say you can't understand their true intentions.

FAIR's "about" page can be viewed here and FAIR simply discusses it's immigration reform aims and criteria. FAIR would aim to reduce immigration (both legal and illegal) from it's current 1 million plus per year figure to a figure more adequately around the range of 300,000 legal immigrants per year. FAIR also wants to increase border protection and stop illegal immigration altogether. 

To me I see no problem with this, though the immigration number could be marginally higher but all round it sounds like a good plan, here's where it gets interesting; 'to set legal immigration at the lowest feasible levels consistent with the national security, economic, demographic, environmental and socio-cultural interests of the present and future.' This right here says they want to specifically pick and choose the immigrants based on factors other than legal applications that meet appropriate standards for example no prior criminal records and such. Now I understand that with putting a limit on the number of migrants allowed in it means you will have to refuse entry of people whom deserve it but this would be racism, if you chose a white man over a black man or vice versa simply because you filled your quota for black or white migrants, that would be racism, what if they were both English, from the same town, they have the same social and economic standing yet you would be rejecting someone's immigration based on the colour of their skin, that is racism. That is why I believe this immigration reform group FAIR is anti-Latino, technically unless you they told you what their exact plans are they are against each specific race immigrating individually.


Personal review, I disagree with aspects of both articles ad organisations, I believe illegal immigration should be stopped, but I also believe living conditions for Latino's should be improved but this is not to say that the suggested free-ride should be given. I also believe immigration should be reformed with a mixture of both of these organisations ideas and attributes there needs to be a more solidified limitation of immigration restriction but if that happens then more support should be given to migrant communities not just Latino but all migrants.


Thursday, 26 March 2015

The Blood Bay – Annie Proulx, page 99-104.

The Blood Bay – Annie Proulx, page 99-104.
Proulx sets The Blood Bay within a very typified view of the Western, the 3 cowpunchers riding horseback through the plains. Proulx also sets her fiction within the non-fiction of the 1886-87 winter which she opened The Blood Bay with, it read “The Winter of 1886-87 was terrible. Every goddamn history of the high plains says so.” The use of fact here allows her to present her fiction as a form of revisionist history, revising how we view the mythology of the west.

Moreover the use of the term 'cowpunchers' gives Proulx the grounds to separate from the typical cowboy, though the terms have the same meaning there is an association surrounding the term cowboy that signifies and represents the masculine hero figure. Due to cowpunchers being a much less used term she is able to —rather anti-climatically— create a western world where there is no hero.

The Blood Bay has 5 male characters, one of which dies straight off the bat and the other four are far from your ‘hero’ figure that we know and love from the west. One of the cowpunchers even cuts off and thaws out the dead man’s feet just to steal his boots. Proulx doesn’t present him as a criminal though, she justifies his actions by presenting it as almost a necessity that he acquires the boots.

As the story progresses the 3 cowpunchers end up spending the night at a shack owned and lived in by Old Man Grice, who cooks them food, gives them a place to sleep as well as playing cards with them and taking their money from it. Proulx has omitted from this story the mythology of the eastern wife whom should be cooking, cleaning and making up beds for the cowpunchers, instead she decides to have the old man do it which is possibly a more realistic revision of the mythology and history.

In the morning one of the men is missing and all that is left is a pair of thawed out feet and old boots, Old Man Grice believed that his horse referred to as ‘The Blood Bay’ had eaten one of the cowpunchers, he then proceeds to bribe the remaining two cowpunchers to not mention it, giving them 40 gold dollars and the three and four bits he had taken off them in the card game last night. So even though Old Man Grice has been separated from the classic gender role in the western he is still portrayed as an anti-heroic character.

Finally The Blood Bay wraps up with the two remaining cowpunchers leaving the shack and returning to the bunkhouse, here they find the other cowpuncher alive, he had travelled out early to send a telegraph for his mother’s birthday, Proulx wrote “When they saw Sheets that night at the bunkhouse they nodded, congratulated him on his mother’s birthday but said nothing about blood bays or fouty-three dollars and four bits. The arithmetic stood comfortable.” So even here, the two men who appeared threatening towards Old Man Grice it would appear as if they knew he was alive and scammed Old Man Grice out of money, yet again an anti-hero. 

So here Proulx took 5 men, changed gender roles, made one man stupid enough to die, another into a thief, one more into someone trying to cover up a death and two more into scammers. And we are left with no great Western hero at the end of it. It is clear to see the Proulx is presenting a revisionist interpretation of western mythology and does it ever so effectively.

1. Proulx A, Proulx A. The Blood Bay. Close Range. New York, NY: Scribner; 1999.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Borderlands and Latino America

Pro- Latino immigration website

Latinos Progresando:
This is a pro-Latino immigration website as it promotes the notion of a better community if the United States incorporate people who identify as Latino, into the society of the United States.

This website contradicts current border issues in relation to Latino immigration. As instead of seeing it as a problem or a challenge for America, it recognises the rapid immigration as a positive thing. The fact that their mission is to serve "immigrants with the highest quality, low-cost legal immigration services..." indicates that not all Latinos are going to have a bad influence on the United States' society, culture and politics. Both in the present but also into the future as well, because of the high number of Latinos who are entering the United States, both legally and illegally.

The main focus for them are three different things; family, community and progress. Due to the fact that there are border issues, this website offers families support in education, legal status as well as other aspects of their lives. To focus on the younger generation of Latinos, proves just how much the Latino population are immigrating to the United States, as in the future, they could potentially have a huge significance over America both culturally and politically. So providing support for the young is vital for many Latinos dealing with present border issues. It focuses on the community because the website feels that Latinos need a stable environment in which they live in; because the border issues at present are causing conflicts between the Latino communities. These conflicts include prejudices which the border or majority of American society promote towards the Latino communities and population. It is interesting that progress is a main focus, because the Latino population is rapidly growing, so the website needs to ensure that they know how to support the Latino communities. Especially as they may no longer need support in the future, if the Latino numbers increase, because they will not be considered the biggest minority group in the United States, which could potentially have an impact in the way they are seen by the rest of the United States population.

Anti-Latino immigration website:

America's Voice:
Their website is pro-Latino immigration, but also anti-Latino immigration too. The reason for this is because they are pro-legal immigration, but anti-illegal immigration. It "encourages" Latino immigrants into the United States, as they will benefit the economy of America. Whilst at the same time, ensuring the safety and security of the United States, both economy and politically and also their society too.

This website is a way of "defending" the American values and voices, by establishing an immigration reform that does not promote Latino immigration. However, at the same time, it also allows them routes in which they can enter and stay in the United States legally.
The fact that the website states, "it is clear that Americans support it" suggesting that because of the "fear" for the United States' future, Latino immigration needs to be changed, controlled or potentially stopped.

This website focuses more on restricting people from entering the United States, whilst allowing legal Latinos to feel welcome and help them with engaging in the community which they now live in. However, the website appears overall anti-Latino immigration as it is aware that "too much" or illegal immigration could alter certain American values, as it states "If we do this right...we will finally have an immigration system that reflects our values as a nation". This again, indicates that because America has had many border immigration issues in the past, as well as in the present. So this website is ensuring that Latino immigration is much more controlled for the future of the United States, to make sure that the American society, values, beliefs, customs and lifestyle are not affected or changed by the increase in the rapid Latino population with the United States of America.

Comparing the two websites, they both present views and opinions on Latino immigration very differently. Due to the fact that although the anti-immigration website is against immigration, it cannot stop it completely, if  Latinos are legal so its approach towards the border issue, is not just one-sided. Whereas the pro-immigration website  offers support, and legally can do this, making their aims and goals much more easier to accomplish than of the America's Voice website. I think these points make a huge difference in the way they both present their arguments, as they are both promoting different things, yet the way they appear on the websites, are very similar.

Grace La Traille 


Monday, 23 March 2015


P.93- "Leeland believes people will be glad to trade at a local ranch supply store that saves a long drive into town." This indicates that the story tells us more about the power of the home than of anything else. Because Leeland wants to be in the West, yet there are very few jobs. But the home is so powerful over the place and the people, that they decide to stay.

P.92- "Overnight the tourist business in Unique falls flat". This demonstrates that the story offers a mythic view of the American West, as the family lose their business and their life is not as good as it once was in Western America.

P.98- "Leeland Lee & Son, Livestock." This shows that the fact that Leeland could just move from place to place and manage to get work indicates that their lives didn't have much, if any security. And also the notion that the West in America provided great opportunities, as Leeland was going to set up his own buisness with his dad before  his son changed his mind.

P.95- "Leeland quits driving trucks and again tries raising hogs with his father on the ranch." However, this proves that because Leeland had so many jobs, it also demonstrates just how hard it was at this time. Especially as he had to result in driving trucks, which was probably not the done thing to do in Western America, as jobs in farming and agriculture would have been preferred and more acceptable in the society.

Irony: Because it is called "Job History" it is as if the jobs are history in the American West. Especially because Leeland cannot find work or goes from job to job throughout the whole story. Examples: P.97- "Leeland quits truck driving" and P.95- "Leeland quits driving trucks and again tries raising hogs with his father on the ranch."

However, some might argue that the book isn't just about jobs, or having a job, but it is also about becoming. The book resembles the idea that people are not made by themselves, they are made by the environment. And people have adapted and changed by their environment- indicating that people do not make up their own identity.

P.95- "He confuses ozone with oxygen" This shows ignorance associated with cowboys and the West, which signifies the mythology again.

P.94- "The baby is a real crier and Leeland quiets him down with spoonfuls of beer" This shows just how the story offers a revisionist interpretation of the mythology of the Western settlement, because it was considered a social norm in the West, and was a long-lasting view that was acceptable by the majority of society.

P.95- "In the spring they move back to Unique and Leeland tries truck driving again" The fact that he has control, to try and find work to support his family- as this was traditional in Western America. It also shows how similar the story is to others, such as Shane and Little House On The Prairie, where the male determines what happens and where the family go next. Because in "Job History" it is shown a lot as I previously mentioned, which is common in Western mythology.

I think that you can learn more about the people than the brevity, because not only does it show the hardships in which the family faced, it resembles the way in which the American West is portrayed throughout the story, which have been seen like that for many years.

Questions I came up with:
Do you feel that the stories show what the American West was like?
Do you feel that "Wyoming Stories" presents a good insight into the mythology of the American West?

Grace La Traille
Proulx, A. (1999) Close Range Wyoming Stories. United States: Charles Scribner's Sons.

People in Hell just want a drink of water - Presentation Script

The story ‘people in hell just want a drink of water’ is a short tale about two families living in Laramie, the Dunmires and the Tinsleys. One of these families was well adjusted, the Dunmiries. They revelled in the reality of the west, in the hardship it brought and in the success that followed thanks to their knowledge of the area and how to work it. The Tinsleys on the other hand were an awful lot less suited to the realities of the west and they face struggles at almost every hardship. Together the two families offer two opposing visions of the west.

The Dunmiries are the dream, they are the mythologised version of the west; they are the successful ones, they are what everyone imagined when they headed to the west. The family is popular, well off, and really an addition to the comminuity whith what ended up being 9 sons all of whom grew up knowing the ways of the west and going on to live reasonably successful lives.

On the other hand we first meet the Tinsley family as they move to Laramie the dream of the west, still alive in all of their hearts; however it becomes soon apparent that the family is not in the slightest well adjusted. As they move in with their three children, the youngest of which is little more than a few months old, doesn’t stop crying throughout the whole journey. One of the first actions we see a specific Tinsley character make is Mrs Tinsley spontaneously picking up the crying baby and throwing them in the river. Immediately she regrets her decision, and goes to save the baby but her husband holds her back and the baby is never seen again. From this I feel it is evident that the Tinsleys are a family that has some deeply rooted troubles and perhaps the reason that they are now moving to the west is because they’re looking for a fresh start that they envisage the west to offer them.

The Tinsley’s are the reality, the proof that the west doesn’t and can’t fix the problems within a family, perhaps it might amplify them. As the years roll on the remaining children of the family move away and the son, Often referred to as Ras moves away to explore the world, although this is mainly the US and Canada, desperate to escape his families disjointed way of life, he neither writes nor visits his parents during this time which is representative of an outright rejection of his parents, although in particular of his mother who after throwing away a baby all of a sudden became incredibly protective over her remaining children.

While the Tinsley’s are portrayed as the messed up family, the antagonist if you will, at the beginning the story goes on to demonstrate the self-destructive nature of the idealised west and how the western lifestyle is that of a singular-no-one-matters-but-me ideology. the Dunmeries are clearly see themselves as the one true way of life and find it difficult for them to allow room in their look upon the world for differences, whether they be new commers who are used to a different way of life, the LGBT community as demonstrated in Brokeback Mountian, or the mentally/physically handicapped as I will go on to discuss.

Later on in the story the Tinsleys son, Ras, returns from his travels around with severe bodily and brain damage from an auto-crash. He becomes somewhat of a neuscence to the surrounding area through riding around on a horse (that his parents gave him to occupy him so they didn’t have to be constantly looking after him) and showing his penis to the women of the area. As soon as his parents find out of the matter they do their best to stop him through talking to him, using reasoning and calm measures, the eastern way. However when Jaxon Dunmirie meets Ras his first response is ‘There’s some around who’d as soon as cut [his penis off] and make sure he don’t breed no more half-wits,’. this is an extreme response to say the least, but one could say that it is representative of what the west is known for, extremes. To look at any western literature (and indeed western movies, tv shows, art and so on) is to look at endurance of the extremes. Unfortunately for Ras he does not knowingly put himself through the extremes, he receives warning, albeit very little, that something along the lines of people cutting off his genitals Might happen but by the next morning he is lacking a penis and gains a fever which leaves him bed bound for days as his groin and leg succumb to gangrene.

The point here is that the west unavoidably forces hardships upon people whether they expect it or not, and this short story shows this by putting you in the positon of someone who didn’t want, nor expect, nor was able to embrace these hardships that most western films revel in. The question of whether Ras deserved to have his genitals cut off some would say is debatable however personally I feel that under the circumstances it is unquestionably wrong, and The message here is that the Dunmiries (although it is not specifically said that the Dunmiries did it it will have been someone similar to the family and so they are representative in the story of the westerners who felt the need to act as the hand of justice in this scenario) , in all their self-righteous ness, felt it right to take the law into their own hands and without clear warning as far as the reader is concerned, and it has some detrimental effects or as Proulx herself says. ‘There was a somber arrogance about [the Dunmiries], a rigidity of attitude that said theirs was the only way..

The mythologised version of the west is one that believes it is always right and has a notable inability to deal with people who are different as considering the time in which this story was set (the early 1900’s) anywhere else Ras would have been put in a mental hospital but in the west they cannot see that he is different and so they attack him like white blood cells on a virus.

So in conclusion the story demonstrates a revisionist interpretation of the mythological west through presenting these two families as the mythological west vs the reality of the west for the unprepared. The fact that the mythological west is not presented as the protagonist, presents the mythological west as a problematic entity such as we have been learning about for the past semester. 

Monday, 16 March 2015

Native American Religion(s)

As we know many native American tribes were kicked from their homes and forced to leave their cultures, beliefs and belongings behind. Luckily the white man didn't always get their way and some Native Americans still practice and believe in various religions that aren't the typical ones such as Christianity and Judaism.

As mentioned above, even though America prides itself on it's constitution which includes the freedom of religion it did persecute Native Americans for practising their spiritual and ritual oriented religions but today there is still about 9000 people still practising Native American religions. Native American religions include Bole-Maru, Dream dance, Drum etc. It is a very diverse construct but all the religions have similar spiritual rituals.

I would argue that these Native American religions are more 'American' than say Christianity which we all know is an extremely hyperbolic symbol of America for example to quote Grace's post the use of "In God We Trust". The reason I believe Native American religions are more American is that Christianity or Judaism is part of the United States, not America. Christianity and Judaism are not native to America but these religions and belief systems are.

Unfortunately though the persecution and degradation of Native American religions is still strong today, often people are making a mockery (usually unintentionally) which images (typically tattoos) such as this;
As opposed to the more realistic image shown below, which is an engraving of the Cree tribe performing a Sun (or Thirst Dance);

These native religions are in my eyes more American than Christianity, luckily they now have the freedom to be practised and protected by the constitution. It's about time 'Americans' began to open their minds to religions that stray away from conformity and began to embrace other cultures and ideas that aren't pounded into their heads by old, out-dated teachings of their colonial ancestors. This isn't to say they should convert but just be willing to accept religions such as these without the idea of "oh here they go howling at the moon again".

Image 1;
Image 2:

Scientology in America


Scientology is and will always be fundamentally American for three main reasons.
The first;  it is incredibly vague in everything it says it is in an attempt to appeal to the mass market. for example the churches website boasts sponsoring multiple causes, for example 'human rights' and 'a crime free world' and others, all of which are notably unspecific, granted this is a website for all Scientologists and so local issues aren't likely to be covered however this is simply the tip of the ice burg. All information put on the website is very vague, in the websites video entitled 'what is Scientology?' the most specific thing said is 'its the study of knowing' which I personally feel can't and doesn't describe a religion very well at all. the website also boasts 'practical solutions to real problems' however it only talks about interpersonal relationship problems. 
the reasoning behind this is that the whole website is designed to encourage people from all walks of life to either become a Scientologist too or even just take up some further reading. It is purposefully vague so it sounds relevant to as many people as possible, much like horoscopes or the American dream.

the second; it is absolutely focused on the financial advancement of oneself even if that means shamelessly taking from another. Being a church the movement doesn't have to pay taxes on the hundreds of books and films that it requires its members buy, however that doesn't stop the church asking new members to buy 9 books the cheapest of which is £20, which although may sound reasonable for a book you have to remember its not taxed as highly as other books might be if at all. I consider this an American characteristic since it is  the basis of capitalism which arguably is only the default around the world because of American hegemony. 

The third is exemplified in this quote:
“No culture in the history of the world, save the thoroughly depraved and expiring ones, has failed to affirm the existence of a Supreme Being. It is an empirical observation that men without a strong and lasting faith in a Supreme Being are less capable, less ethical and less valuable to themselves and society....A man without an abiding faith is, by observation alone, more of a thing than a man.”  - LRH (the science of survival)
Needless to say following Tuesdays lesson the unwavering stress put on the importance of religion and belief in a higher power is most definitely an American characteristic which the Scientology religion exhibits proudly on its website.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Faith and the West


I have chosen the faith group, "Community of Christ", as it is typically American in character.  (Video clip).

This is a clip to a video which gives a summary of what this faith group offers to people. It mainly focuses on spirituality, and the idea that you can change your life, as well as the world. The YouTube clip is what appears to be a promotional video which allows people to see if that religious group is the right faith for them.

The beliefs that this faith group focuses on is God, Jesus Christ, The Holy Spirit, Peace, Humanity, The Church, Revelation, Scripture and Sacraments. Each of these main principles of the religious group are linked closely with the bible.

Week 3: Holy Attention

This image is in itself closely related to the idea that this religious group is particularity American in character. Because the cross is in many images that are associated with America and the American people. An example of this is:

This image illustrates just how important God is in America, or how America is associated is with God in different ways. The phrase "In God We Trust" is symbolic of the American character and this is a key feature in this faith group. The notion that Jesus Christ died for people also is an example of how this faith is typical of the American character. Because it is believed that America was founded on Christian principles and Christianity. There is also a lot of emphasis on the Church. Again, this is typically American in character, as many Americans go to church and are involved in the culture of religion. The fact that the phrase is also on the bank note also demonstrates just how important God is, not just to Americans, but to America as a country. Because people are reminded every time they pay in cash for something. The history of America is a factor of the highly religious country, as people would have nothing but faith, and so would put their faith in God, whilst also hoping for a better life and future; alongside the belief that hard work can also enable you to achieve a very successful life.

Within the video is states "you will receive love and support", and this indicates that it is particularly American in character, as the notion that you will be united not just with God and Jesus Christ, but also with fellow Americans. This is relating to the notion of having unity with each other, and also reinforcing the unity of the United States. They also believe that Gods mission is their mission, which is an interesting belief to have. Their motto is typically American in character, as its based on the idea to help one another, and to make the world a much better place. It is as if you have to take small steps to achieve greater success. Their 'motto' is, "Change your life; change your community; change the world!". 

Grace La Traille


Monday, 9 March 2015

Western hardships

Chapter 25. Soldiers.

I chose this chapter to discuss my theme within because it most obviously involves all three of the main points that I am supposed to focus on within the brief .

Political hardships:

Politically the most prominent of hardships faced in this chapter is either the boundaries being changed so the Ingalls family is no longer legally settled or simply the fact that this information has only just come to their attention after they have always been illegally settled. The latter is most likely since the families are immediately faced with the threat of soldiers forcibly removing them from their various homesteads, which is would be an unlikely scenario if the boundaries had only just been changed. Early on in the chapter the author writes 'pretty soon they would all begin to live like kings' which really shows how the family was properly establishing themselves where they were living at that time, and is perhaps a good explanation as to why Pa was so angry when he found out that he had to move and at one point exclaims 'damned if I know!' when asked where he thinks they're going to go next. While some might argue that he might be panicked instead of angry at this point I feel it at best might be a mixture of the two. he feels that the fact that the 'government is sending soldiers to take all us settlers out of Indian territory.' is unjust and thus one could consider it a hardship that they had to endure, let alone the repercussions that this represented for the family as will be discussed later in the blog post.

Social hardships:

The Chapter picks up a short while after the great fire that rages across the prairie and almost destroys everything the family holds dear. While the majority of the characters just think of it as an accidental fire, two, Mr Edwards and Mr Scott, believe that the fire was set by the Indians to drive the settlers off their land however this theory was quickly set aside when other more pressing issues came to light. In the beginning of this chapter the family exit their house to see the blackness that the fire left almost all disappear over night; Ma says 'I thought the whole country was black, and there's nothing but green grass as far as the eye can see.' at one point which suggests that the fire was beneficial to the landscape, and whats more is that it was in fact set by the Indians as part of one of their long standing traditions of setting fire to the grassy plains so animals are drawn out onto the plains so they're easier to hunt, as is shown by the abundance of animals that are described just after the fresh green grass is discovered. I consider this a social hardship because what it ultimately is is a clash of cultures that don't, and should at this point, mix.  A lack of communication here almost cost the family their lives, this further exemplifies the hardships of the west.
About mid way through the chapter Pa says 'no great loss without some small gain.' as they eat their remaining seed potatoes so they don't have to bring them with them on their trip up north. this shows the forced positive attitude that frontiers men and women had to have,
just to survive mentally for to always think realistically/negatively about the problems they faced would surely break them.

Natural hardships:

In the chapter the family face many a hardship but perhaps the most devastating is the fact that, by being displaced  they leave behind all that they've worked toward so far that year. near the end of the chapter Ma says to Pa 'A whole year gone Charles.'. Despite leaving in the late spring this family has pretty much lost all their food prospects for this year thanks to the seasons meaning that they cannot sow seeds when they arrive in their new home if they want a decent turnover if any. this really shows how the simple fact that the seasons mother nature brings must change from perfect for crops to deadly and back again constantly, is in itself a hardship for the Ingalls family 

Representation of American Indians, Racism? (Chapter 4)

Since it's release in 1935 Little House on the Prairie (LHOP) has been an extremely popular children's book worldwide. It was marketed by the publishers as a children's book in keeping with the other books in the series. LHOP is to this day still read widely by school children and studied as a text within schools, this being said LHOP is also widely known to be a controversial text due to it representation of Native Americans especially through the eyes of the characters. 

There are multiple views of American Indians throughout the text but it is Ma's view that is most controversial. Ma is a strong-willed character in most aspects and her view on Native Americans follows the same suit, to put it simply for now she does not like them in the slightest, this theme is introduced early on in the text as it is prompted by Laura asking to see a 'papoose'.

This detail of Ma's character becomes most prevalent in chapter 4 (Prairie Day) on page 35. It is at this point within the story that you begin to understand the representation of American Indians in relation to the entire text. Page 35 reads;
           "'Where is a papoose , Ma?' Laura asked...
           'Mercy on us!' Ma said. 'Whatever makes you want to see Indians? We will see enough of            them. More than we would want to, I wouldn't wonder.'"
It is this point at which we first see Ma's true feeling towards the Native peoples. 'Indians' are mentioned throughout the book before this chapter but is only really in regards to land and the papoose. 

Towards the bottom of page 35 through and onto page 36 the narrator describes how Ma was explaining to Laura that she wasn't sure as to whether they had crossed into Native American territory yet, but the narrative goes on to say that Ma wasn't concerned as to whether or not they had, simply because she was confident they would be relocated soon. 

What is intriguing about the discussion between Ma and Laura is that Laura asks if the Native Americans would hurt them and Ma responds sharply with "'No!'... 'Don't get such an idea into your head.'" This answer can be read many different ways but what stands out to oneself most is the fact that she doesn't see the Native American as trouble even though they would be going on to their land. This stands as the firm ideology of white superiority and strength over the Native population, very typical of European settlers (particular of Anglo descent) and the frontier mentality giving the white man right to the land especially, uncultivated land, and strengthens the belief that the white man can do as they please without threat from the Native Americans. All this is typified by Ma's response and her general character most predominantly in that short response she gave Laura.

This representation of Native Americans did impact Laura as she began this book with a seemingly more "naïve" view of the Native population. As the story progresses her Pa's and Ma's separate yet similar representations of American Indians influence how Laura perceives the Native peoples. Laura appears to follow more of her mothers views as opposed to her fathers. Pa represents Indians in a more complex way, it is more grey with Pa instead of it being black and white like Ma. Pa doesn't speak of the Native Americans in always the greatest way or with much respect yet often his actions are separate from his words. 

Another brief point to pick up on is in Chapter 11, Indians in the House, the Native Americans are stereotyped. Now, in all honesty this could be a true representation of the two men at the time but the problem with that is this; Laura writes 'Their heads seemed to go up... and ended in feathers' from personal understanding a feather head-dress wouldn't have been worn to simply to walk around and enter peoples houses in, it is much more a ceremonial part of dress meaning it is likely that these two American Indians were dressed according to stereotype rather than what they were truly wearing.

In all honesty the representation of Native Americans is agreeably controversial but you have to argue the point that at the time of publishing, almost a century ago, and the time in which it is based on, over a century ago, it was not a controversial subject. The representation of the Native population is not a good representation by any stretch of the imagination, but that should not affect the use of the book in teaching as it could prove beneficial in raising awareness and understanding of contemporary views versus past views.

Book Cover Image:,204,203,200_.jpg
Indians in the House Image:

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Feminism and the West

Little House on the Prairie, Laura Ingalls Wilder: 
I have chosen to focus on chapter 3 of the novel, whilst paying particular attention on the traditional gender roles theme. 

Chapter 3- Camp on the High Prairie:

In this chapter, the family start to settle in the wilderness, and is where the traditional gender roles start to appear. The decisions on what to do are made by Pa. This is stereotypical, as men are considered better leaders than women. "We'll camp here a day or two" (Page 27). This demonstrates how the operation of gender roles is seen within the novel as it is suggesting that the family, especially Ma, cannot have a say in this. Pa is being assertive, a role related to males, especially in the 1800's.

Throughout the whole chapter, Pa does not get involved in the domestic chores associated with the home. Instead, he focuses more on the 'survival' roles. "Then Pa raked more coals over the cover, while Ma sliced fat salt pork." (Page 26). This indicates that because Pa is male, his role is to ensure the family survive; making sure there is warmth within the house. Whereas Ma, although also ensuring their survival, her role is much more domestic orientated. As cooking is related to femininity, just like violence is associated with masculinity. "Pa did not seem to move quickly, but he did. In an instant he took his gun out of the wagon and was ready to fire at those green eyes." (Page 28). This proves that Wilder incorporated the gender roles in the novel, because it was what life was like in 1870.

Typical gender roles that the novel presents is the notion of strength and fitness. "She couldn't hold him." (Page 29). This signifies that Ma was not strong enough to defeat the animal that was threatening the family. Whereas Pa was. This also reflects the traditional male hero, saving the family from threats. The idea that Ma is hopeless and helpless, demonstrates how the traditional gender roles are shown.

However, Ma does have some form of authority. "'Bedtime for little girls!'" (Page 28). This shows that despite the mother being portrayed as a sheep to Pa, she does actually have control when it comes to the children. But this is equally a traditional role, as woman look after the children, whilst the father protects them.

There are some surprises with the gender roles. Laura does not fit the stereotypical, traditional gender role. "Mary got up and turned around so that Ma could unbutton her. But Laura jumped up and stood still." (Page 28). This demonstrates that Laura falls into both gender roles, as she is boisterous, yet she is a girl. She wears a dress, but she is also quite rebellious too. She seems interested with nature as opposed to the civilised home. In the 1800's, if the gender did not match the gender roles, it was considered as uncivilised. Despite the family building a home in the wilderness. Laura is portrayed similar to her father, whereas Mary is similar to her mother. This is interesting to add to a novel set in the 1870's, as this would have been unusual.

This image shows that both the girls are both cooking, which is the 'correct' traditional gender role. However, one is clearly in charge, while the other simply watches. This is an example where Laura is similar to her father, as although cooking, she has dominance over Mary, and is in control over the entire task. She also appears much more confident than Mary, as she is not measuring the amount in which she is pouring into the bowl. The body language of both suggest that Laura is assertive, whilst Mary is submissive.

This image illustrates the traditional gender role of the female in operation in the novel. As Ma is teaching the girl how to live within society. Mary clearly has no problem in the female roles. An interesting point is the fact that Laura is not in the image at all. This indicates that she is not portrayed as fitting in with the female role, and is arguably with her father hunting.

The Wall Street Journal:

This review focuses more on other aspects of the novel rather than the operation of traditional gender roles. Instead, the review focuses on the American values and ideology and the lifestyle of the 1800's in America. The idea of the American Dream is being portrayed in the novel, and whether the pioneers were truly free, because of the Government and Indians during this time. It also mentions that the novel is a good book for children as it demonstrates the history of Western America, as well as the values that were associated with America such as, self-reliance.

The New York Times states that Pioneer Girl was number 1 in February 2015, in terms of culture.

Grace La Traille 

Wilder, L. (1935) Little House on the Prairie. Great Britain: Puffin Books.

i've chosen the gender roles theme (chapter 3)

Monday, 2 March 2015

Six Shooter City and other Short Stories

The Short Stories
I feel both of Anna Yezierka's short stories presented to me provided similar morals. From my grasp of the concept I saw both stories as tales of not quite yet Americanized enough immigrants who tried to live the dream, whether that was through going to college or by painting some kitchen walls, and ended up worse off.
What i feel this represents is that the american dream is only for Americans, even though in the second story 'soap and water' the main character is only drawn to america in the first place because of the american dream and the belief that she, a Russian immigrant who by my understanding had a limited English vocabulary, could make it and go to college to write poetry, in English. While, as a reader, I feel proud of her for managing to get to a passing standard in her class, one can't help but note how delusional the original goal of hers really was considering the time and place and her socio-economic status the third still holds people back from graduating high school in America today, let alone college. This I feel represents Americas disillusion in capitalism and their unwavering belief that it can conquer all inequality if one works hard enough. This is backed up especially since the girl in soap and water arguably works too hard so she has not time to keep herself clean and that is why she inevitability fails in the long run. Such horrible irony is exemplary of how one could say that immigrants need to be properly Americanized, in the sense of wearing clean clothes and presenting oneself in a proper manor, before they can even think of involving themselves properly in American society. 
As the first story 'the lost "beautifulness"' demonstrates becoming American isn't necessarily a good thing. Hanneh Hayyeh is viewed as becoming more American when she decides to decorate her home with money she worked hard to save up to do. Her friends say that although she is doing it to benefit her son (who's name shortened to Aby suggests, at least in this day and age, that she is doing it for her baby, rather than to a grown man who's fighting for America overseas, which is suggestive of more Americanization in the family) but many of her friends feel that the only benefit from her painting the walls will be felt by the landlord because its not her walls that shes painting, its the landlord's. The reality painted by this short story is that to be American is to be a capitalist. and what is important to remember about  capitalism is that what it does above all else is create inequality, it makes the rich; richer and the poor; poorer and since Americanized immigrants hardly ever come into the system rich the story presented here must have been only too common in 1920's immigrant America.

Six Shooter City
The task we were presented with here calls for a traditional western story. The one I found 
not traditional, perhaps isn't in the sense that it wasn't set in the 1800's, it must have been later since a cell phone is mentioned once near the end however up until that point it is believable that the story was set in the traditional western era, I think that this is because its a make believe town set up to give people today an authentic western experience, however the author, although being told at the very beginning that everything was pretend, he seems to believe that some of the later happenings were real for the majority of the story that it is a fake town so it is portrayed as real. The short story compares easily to what immigrants had to face. The story starts with a boy and his Pa coming into a [fake] western town on a layover  to the far west where there's gold, the boys Pa immediately engages with some sort of stand off with the sheriff of the town, from which nothing immediately amounts apart from the discovery that the town is a 'law abiding town'. Later, after the boy and his Pa go to get a drink (that tastes suspiciously like apple juice) they go to the bank to get out some money where they not only witness a bank robbery but are later accused of being a part. This is where I feel it relates to the immigrants experience, as the new comers are immediately accused because no one knows them well. first generation immigrants would have had to deal with people accusing them of all sorts of things, its easy to blame the new people who no one knows and don't speak much, if any English. While the story is set in a fake town i think the message is still valid and the fact that this scenario was considered plausible enough to be acted out means that many consider it a valid discourse of happenings that are not unknown in history. 
The story ends with a fake hanging of all participants but one 4. The sheriff and his 2 deputies aren't even put in the fake nooses for obvious reasons. 
 the fourth participant who isn't fake hung is Pa. for some reason the rope that had been attached to him got caught in the tree they were pretending to hang the participants from and he was unfortunately hung for real.
 The whole story closes with a passage written by the boy 15 years later and goes as follows; "Six Shooter City closed down after Pa’s death. The old wooden painted sign with the stagecoach and six shooters at the front entrance remained for a while, but the bank, the saloon, the jail and all of the other buildings were immediately boarded up. Weeds and dandelions replaced the tumbleweed. Hangman’s Hill looked the same as always. Fact is fifteen years to the day my Pa died, the Sheriff, who was really a car salesman and whose real name was Jack Goodson, was found hanging from the same tree. Folks said it was suicide. They too were wrong. Dead wrong." 

It Takes a Woman

The Beautifulness is a simple yet powerful story, as we all read it I wont detail the plot but focus more on the key points.

Hanneh is delighted with the beautifulness of the new kitchen she saved and worked so hard for, as an immigrant the going was tough for her and her family already as seen when her husband interrogates her about how she cam about the money to fix up the kitchen. It seems as if the immigrants life was made more and more difficult each and every day.

Unfortunately even though Hanneh had worked so hard for her kitchen all her landlord saw it as was another money making opportunity (although this could have happened to an American). The story is trying to portray this view that immigrants were treated poorly and lived in terrible conditions which is why it's unsurprising that Hanneh felt the need to fix up where she lived. an example of these poor conditions is when Hanneh is leading the possy of women and Mr. Sopkin to her new kitchen, the story reads 'Through the hallway of a dark, ill-smelling tenement, up two flights of crooked, rickety stairs, they filed.' This portrays a rather vivid image of the conditions the immigrants were living in and the unfortunate suffering they called "home".

I believe the moral we should be taking away from this story is that even the most strong willed people such as Hanneh, can be broken (the straw that broke the Camals back) there is only so far you can push a person and even immigrants were people though they were often treated as less than.

Moving on to Soap and Water It follows many key themes as previously discussed but also emphasises the idea of the inability to escape poverty, even following academic achievement poverty still is all consuming. 

It also focuses on the idea of filth and being dirty, there is an idea of filth that follows immigrants round, I believe even if the immigrants cleaned themselves up most people such as Miss. Whiteside would still view them as "dirty". 

Unfortunately as powerful as these stories are and it is understandable that they are focused primarily on immigrants but many of the points could be said to be applicable to non-immigrants too. Native Americans for example were treated just as poorly, if not much worse, with similar applicable moral points from these stories even some "Americans" particularly working class faced similar prejudices. 

The morals to take away from Soap and Water is that academia wasn't always the way out, especially for immigrants and that there are a number of prejudices especially in regards to cleanliness and the link that filth has to race, when I say race I mean in general immigrants.

It Takes a Woman - William S. Hubbartt
This short story solidifies some of the points about immigrants previously raised as well, such as immigrants being dirty (an Irish man is labelled as a cheater which is just yet another way of being 'dirty') furthermore the immigrant is poor. He is betting his money away which is understandable as it offers the possibility of winning lots of money back and is seen as a quicker way out of poverty.

The role of the woman is yet again pivotal in this story as it has been in the previous two, and it brings up the key idea of 'It Takes a Woman' in the previous two stories though the woman has ended up not coming out on top but in this story she does but even still there are similar gender separations seen throughout the texts. 

The main point I took away from It Takes a Woman is that no matter what gender you are within America there is the view that anyone can do the right thing and it will allow for success, this contrasts though with the previous two stories as it appears this moral doesnt apply to immigrants.

It Takes a Woman;
Anne Yezierska: