War Dances By Louise Erdrich Analysis

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20 September 2011 English 1102 The Destruction of a Culture It seems that in nearly any culture, the value of the traditions and beliefs can be greatly weakened when introduced to a new, overpowering culture. This happens to families that move to a new city or country with greatly differing lifestyles quite frequently. The children of these families grow up in a society where the cultural beliefs of their family are not common, and as a result these children usually grow up to not care as much about their old culture's traditions as the older generations of their family do. Louise Erdrich's poem, “Dear John Wayne,” and Sherman Alexie's short story, “War Dances,” give great examples of this from the new generation of Native American's…show more content…
In the first stanza of her poem she compares the white takeover to the mosquitoes at the drive in movie where “nothing works” to keep them away and “they break through the smoke screen for blood” (Erdrich 12). This gives a comparison to how the Europeans easily broke through the Native Americans' defenses, leaving them no chance at fighting off the white men. It introduces the idea that the white men engulfed not only the Native Americans' freedom, but also everything else they had, including their culture and lifestyle. In the sixth stanza Erdrich mentions “a few laughing Indians fall over the hood / slipping in the hot spilled butter” (Erdrich 12). The Indians are laughing at watching their own people being brutally killed in a white man's movie, greatly disgracing their ancestors and giving an example of how Erdrich feels these people care very little about their past. When the Indians slip in the butter it also alludes to how Erdrich sees these people as fools thanks to the white peoples' influences turning them from their roots. The members of this newer generation of Indians are simply described as laughing, falling, and slipping, giving them a general impression of…show more content…
In Erdrich's work, she displays the white people very critically by using quotes from the John Wayne movie she uses in her her poem, such as “It is / not over, this fight, not as long as you resist. / Everything we see belongs to us.” (Erdrich 12). This direct attack on the whites from the film gives a glimpse into how Erdrich feels that the white men are the sole reason that the Native American culture has almost been destroyed. She feels that the whites' greed and aggressive nature forced the destruction of the traditions and values that the Native American people once had. Alexie, on the other hand, feels that the blame falls more on the actual people of the new Native American generations becoming more like the white men on their own accord. Throughout the entirety of “War Dances” it is not mentioned in any section other than “Blankets” that the main character is Indian. In fact, if “Blankets” was to be taken out of the short story, it is doubtful that the main character's heritage would be defined at all. Even in the section “Drugstore Indian” the closest Alexie comes to describing any of the people in the drugstore is calling one a “nosy hag,” despite the title of the section suggesting there would be mentions of race (Alexie 72). The main character, despite

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