Zitkala-Sa Thesis

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Mark Twain and Zitkala-Sa offer memoirs about their own lives which also double as social critiques of the United States. Both of their memoirs emphasize their reflections and criticism of the nation. From their two, different perspectives of the United States motivated them to write their life story.
Twain’s autobiography, Old Times on the Mississippi, describes his life as a boy and his comrades residing in the village on the west bank of the Mississippi River in the 1850s. Twain also notes his irresistible ambition to become a steamboatman. However, these ambitions were not always permanent. Twain states, “These ambitions faded out, each in its turn; but the ambition to be a steamboatman always remained.” Twain’s yearning to become a steamboatman
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At an early age, Zitkala-Sa witnessed her mother expressing hatred towards the “palefaces.” Zitkala-Sa’s mother explains to her that these palefaces stolen, defrauded, and forced them away from their lands. Zitkala-Sa also learned of the core of her mother’s hatred, saying that the deaths of her sister and uncle were the fault of the white men. At ages seven or eight, Zitkala-Sa went to a missionary school despite her mother’s warning. Zitkala-Sa expressed her excitement describing that the east was “beautiful” and the “wonderland.” In however way you look at it, arriving at the school awoken her loathing of palefaces. While Zitkala-Sa was in the missionary school, she was forced to follow rules and regulations against her will. Unfortunately, it came to light that the Native American women and children in the missionary school, cutting their long, dark brown hair. Zitkala-Sa conveys her vexation stating, “Among our people, short hair was worn by mourners, and shingled hair by cowards!” Not only that, the missionary school treated the native people like prisoners. Zitkala-Sa states, “A small bell was tapped, and each of the pupils drew a chair from under the table. Supposing this act meant they were to be seated…” Furthermore, her friends were beat at school as punishment, as quoted, “The time the woman meant her blows to smart, for the poor frightened girl shrieked at the top of her voice.” It was soon revealed that the missionary school was assimilating its students. The result of Americanizing cost the Native Americans many losses. Zitkala-Sa mentions went she went back to the village South Dakota’s inhabitants became Americanized. Zitkala-Sa states, “They were no more young braves in blankets and eagle plumes, nor Indian maids with prettily painted cheeks. They had gone three years to school in the East, and had become civilized.”

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