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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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3. Utopian Promise   



3. Utopian
Promise


•  Unit Overview
•  Using the Video
•  Authors
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Activities: Author Activities


Samson Occom - Author Questions

Back Back to Samson Occom Activities
  1. Comprehension: When does Occom feel that he is being treated unfairly? What is his concept of justice? How does he deal with the prejudice and mistreatment he experiences? What rhetorical strategies does he use to present his complaints in his narrative?

  2. Context: Compare Occom's description of Indian life and Indian identity with the perspectives on Indians offered by other writers in this unit (Bradford, Morton, Rowlandson, or Knight, for example). How does Occom's narrative of Native American life complicate or challenge the perspectives of the English writers? Does his account of Indian culture have anything in common with their accounts?

  3. Exploration: In his life, Occom managed to inhabit what often seemed to be two very separate cultures: he wrote and preached in English and committed himself to the Christian theology taught by white people, yet never lost his commitment to his identity as an Indian. How does Occom's narrative provide evidence of the strategies he adopted in order to live in two separate cultures at the same time? What tensions does this hybrid or dual identity produce in the narrative? This problem of hybridity or duality is a major theme in many works by later American writers. You might compare Occom's piece to William Apess's "An Indian's Looking-Glass for the White Man," John Neihardt's Black Elk Speaks, or W. E. B. Du Bois's concept of double consciousness in The Souls of Black Folk.



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