West of the Border: The Multicultural Literature of the Western American Frontiers

West of the Border: The Multicultural Literature of the Western American Frontiers

Noreen Groover Lape

Language: English

Pages: 234

ISBN: 0821413465

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Expanding the scope of American borderland and frontier literary scholarship, West of the Border examines the writings of nineteenth- and turn-of-the-century Native, African, Asian, and Anglo American frontier writers. This book views frontiers as “human spaces” where cultures make contact as it considers multicultural frontier writers who speak from “west of the border.”

James P. Beckwourth, a half-black fur trader; Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins, a Paiute translator; Salishan author Mourning Dove; Cherokee novelist John Rollin Ridge; Sui Sin Far, an Anglo-Chinese short story writer, and her sister, romance novelist Onoto Watanna; and Mary Austin, a white southwestern writer- each of these intercultural writers faces a rite of passage into a new social order. Their writings negotiate their various frontier ordeals: the encroachment of pioneers on the land; reservation life; assimilation; Christianity; battles over territories and resources; exclusion; miscegenation laws; and the devastation of the environment.

In West of the Border, Noreen Groover Lape raises issues inherent in American pluralism today by broaching timely concerns about American frontier politics, conceptualizing frontiers as intercultural contact zones, and expanding the boundaries of frontier literary studies by giving voice to minority writers.

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the creative and constructive potential of the frontier contact zone. The autobiography in part asks what is the role of the Crows in U.S. society and trade relations? What is the future of Native and Anglo American relations? While Beckwourth’s one voice answers for the exploitation and eventual extermination of the Native Americans, his other voice justi¤es their continuation. Ultimately, the autobiographical narrator, situated between cultures on the frontier, struggles with his own double

liminal periods of important rituals in stable and repetitive societies, when major groups or social categories in those societies are passing from one cultural state to another.”31 Producing works that mediate between disparate cultures on the frontiers, the writers negotiate social, cultural, and identity frontiers through cross-cultural dialogues. Further, the writers experience the frontiers and embody borders in their culturally ambiguous identities. Like the initiands in rites of passage,

in its second dispatch, the verse takes on symbolic signi¤cance. Mrs. Spring Fragrance travels to visit her cousin in San Francisco where she manipulates the marriage of Ah Oi to the government schoolmaster’s son. When she writes to ask Mr. Spring Fragrance if she could remain at her cousin’s another week, he records the Tennyson quotation at the end of his reply. Uninformed about his wife’s intention to intervene on Laura’s behalf, he has been misled by a relative into believing his wife is

and lobbied for the continuation of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which was to expire a year later, and to include in its restrictions the Japanese. Although Japanese laborers organized a protest against the act, they remained silent on the issue of Chinese exclusion. Rather than uniting with the Chinese, the Japanese fought independently against exclusion. The Japanese escaped being incorporated into the Exclusion Act of 1902, but white laborers continued to petition against their

novels the change from arranged to love matches under way in Japan at the time. With the onset of industrialization, parental control was weakened, family life became modernized, and Western family values were instilled in Japanese culture. The concept of love matches was imparted to the culture and ¤nally made a right of Japanese citizens in the U.S.-imposed Family Code of 1948.28 The tension between accepting an arranged marriage and choosing a love match is central to the plot of Miss Numè of

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