Trail Of Tears Analysis

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Following the Indian Removal Act of 1830, countless Native American tribes were forced to leave their lands by the United States government. The physical removal is known as the Trail of Tears, for the vicious and brutal conditions withstood by the victims of forced relocation. As an affect, displacement results in loss and pain for social, cultural, and religious values, unique to topography. Overtime, succeeding generations must come to terms with the suffering endured by their ancestry. Although not all Native American tribes endured the same hardships, the notion of displacement is a commonality. Specifically, negotiating individual identity while balancing native traditions and beliefs with imposing American ideals. In Louise Erdrich’s …show more content…
Pauline demonstrates the religious tension by failing to ward off the evil spirits in her nightmares with both Christian and native amulets. Pauline’s nightmares are so severe, Pauline would “raise dark bruises” on the arms and legs of Sophie and Philomena (66). Bernadette takes pity on Pauline and pays Moses Pillager to make a “special hoop of light split ash, crisscrossed with catgut web, a dreamcatcher” (66). Pauline hangs the dreamcatcher alongside her crucifix; however, the dreamcatcher “only spun the dreams through, thicker, faster, until I ceased to sleep at all” (66). The juxtaposition of the crucifix and dreamcatcher reveal Pauline’s personal affliction. While she has adopted the Christian faith, her native amulet impedes her Christian sacrament. The result is a perplexed Pauline, who will be constantly haunted by her dismissal of tradition, in favor of Christianity. The conflicting presence of imposing supernatural forces in Pauline pushes her into uncertainty. The doubt and insecurity that follows from the tension of Christianity and native religions reflects Pauline’s personal turmoil. The crucifix and the dreamcatcher become more than conflicting religious symbols, they become incompatible identity traits that foster uncertainty in …show more content…
For example, when Pauline tries to convert those at Fleur’s, her native culture undermines her Christian mission through the form of charity. Margaret brewed a stew “made from a winter grouse that was all bones... shredded meat, marrow, and some cattail roots, boiled” (145). Pauline considers how the stew “scented the room, called to the body with its fragrance, even though it was mainly water” (145). After Fleur splits her meal with Lulu, Fleur gives the rest to Pauline. Pauline is so starved; Pauline drinks the soup down before she realized Fleur “had taken none for herself” (145). Pauline’s identity crisis is vital to understanding how the tension between Christianity and native religions complicates the formation of identity. When Pauline comes to impose Christianity on Fleur and her family, she receives charity in return. Pauline thinks she is helping Fleur, but her intentions have a reciprocal effect. Fleur’s charity is not a reflection of religion, but rather an echo of survival. Pauline resists her traditional native beliefs, in favor of Christianity as a means to survive the harsh realities of starving people. When Pauline is starving, the very people she hopes to change feed her. In this scene, the notion of charity neglects its religious connotation, suggesting the act of charity is better reserved for humane interaction between

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