Literature and History: The Development of American Culture to 1865


Despite the known perspective it was written in, this reading did not strike me as something written in the nineteenth century. If I read this without the historical background, I would have thought it was a produced in the twenty-first century. When I first read this, I thought the title, “An Indian’s Looking-Glass for the White Man” meant the life of a Native American that the White Man did not see. However, during class, I learned that the words “looking-glass” meant a mirror and not as literal. In fact, it showed what the Whites did to the Native American women in addition to how the Native Americans believed the Whites were. It was upsetting to see how the White Man would essentially rape these women who were just in their huts, just at home. In the reading, they mentioned this as “common prostitution.” Do we know if these women were given anything in return but a loss of face and dignity? If a white man had touched them (without being married), would the other Native American man see her as someone they would still be with or someone who is tainted?

Nevertheless, I really enjoyed how Apess presented the whites among all the other races. Most of our readings have put the whites as those who are superior but Apess thought otherwise. My favorite quote was, “If black or red skins or any other skin of color is disgraceful to God, it appears that he has disgraced himself a great deal — for he has made fifteen colored people to one white and placed them here upon this earth.” (Apess 1054) The whites are not the superior race because they are in the minority, there are other people in the world. I wonder what their reactions were to this writing because it really calls them out instead of praising how great their race is like all other works. What do you guys think happened when they read this? I mean for us, I believe we are more open minded than people of those times so can see both sides of the story.


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