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

3. Utopian

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Activities: Author Activities

William Bradford - Author Questions

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  1. Comprehension: In Chapter IV, Bradford refers to America as a "vast and unpeopled" country, but his subsequent account of the Plymouth settlement attests to the fact that the land was far from uninhabited. What other kinds of people do the Plymouth settlers encounter on their voyage and in the New World? How does the presence of "strangers" work both to challenge and to solidify the Puritan community?

  2. Comprehension: Why is Bradford so outraged by Thomas Morton? What is the nature of the conflict between Morton's Merrymount community and Bradford's Pilgrims? What kinds of values did each group espouse?

  3. Context: What does Bradford mean when he refers to "plain style" in the introduction to Of Plymouth Plantation? What values and beliefs are reflected in his prose style? How does it compare to the prose styles of other writers discussed in this unit (Morton or Penn, for example)?

  4. Exploration: Compare Bradford's account of the Puritans' "Arrival at Cape Cod" and "First Thanksgiving" with contemporary ideas about the landing at Plymouth Rock and the holiday. Why have these invented traditions and myths become so central to ideas about America's national beginnings? Why are the Puritans considered such an important starting point for America's national culture?

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