Essay on Native & Afro American attitudes to the land

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"The land was not `new' to the Indian, and the Black who worked it didn't own it." Discuss the ways in which Native American and Afro American attitudes to the land, as represented in Beloved and The Names, differ both from one another and the attitudes of European Americans. Native American and Afro American cultures both have differing attitudes towards the land. These two perceptions of the land, as portrayed in Morrison's Beloved and Momaday's The Names are significantly different from

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For example Sethe, in Beloved, cannot help but associate Sweet Home with the violation she suffered at the hands of Schoolteacher and his `nephews' saying:

Like a greedy child it [Sethe's brain] snatched up everything. Just once, could it say, No thank you? ... I am full God damn it of two boys with mossy teeth, one sucking on my breast the other holding me down, their book reading teacher watching and writing it up ... I don't want to know or have to remember that. (Morrison p.70)

The previous passage was but one example of how the land remains a constant reminder of the atrocities suffered by the African American community. According to Michael K Green European culture was based on "the family homestead and the private ownership of land" (Green p.15). African Americans in Beloved strive to construct a `home' on the land but they are prevented. At 124 Bluestone "Paul D arrived and broke up the place, making room, shifting it, moving it over to someplace else, then standing in the place he had made." (Morrison p.39). However, even after creating his own space on the land Paul D is eventually `moved'. Baby Suggs attempts something similar by changing the house to be more like `a cabin', however "her efforts are stymied by the invasion of this space by the white people trying to return Sethe and her babies to the unbearable past" (Jesser p.6)

Green stated the importance of the ownership of land in European culture, this relationship between man
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