Know[ing] nothing of sin: An examination of ethnocentrism in the film Little Big Man

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In the movie, Little Big Man, there is an obvious dichotomy between the settlers and the Native Americans. The story is narrated through the perspective of a boy raised in the Indian culture shortly after his parents are slaughtered by another tribe. To gain a full understanding of what role ethnocentrism plays in this film we must first look at the situation through the narrator, then the white settlers, and finally the Native Americans. Throughout the film many different perspectives are given on the culture of the tribes. In most cases, the Native Americans are portrayed as acting in a “foul, pagan way.” The very first vantage point comes from the narrator of the movie, Little Big Man, and his stance on the nature of the Native Americans varies throughout the movie. While he is at first fearful of all Native Americans, he later begins to distinguish between varying tribes and gain a great deal of respect for their lifestyle. It is often the ignorance of the characters in this movie that causes them to fear the Native Americans, and the people that fear or dislike them are usually groundless in their reasoning. There are many challenges that deter the narrator from easily transitioning from a negative opinion on natives to the exact opposite. After his family was slaughtered by natives, the narrator had to rebuild trust and learn not to generalize and group all natives together as violent, malicious people. The narrator is hesitant to accept the native way of life and remarks that he knows where “the dump lies, but where is the camp?” A product of colonial society, the narrator is aware of the stigma surrounding Native Americans, and often makes facetious remarks to the historian documenting his story. As he begins to make friends and form a relationship with the chief, the narrator begins to better understand the native culture, and prefer it to his
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