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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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5. Masculine Heroes   

5. Masculine

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Activities: Author Activities

Louise Amelia Smith Clappe - Author Questions

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  1. Comprehension: Based on Clappe's letters, what kind of role do you think women occupied within the mining camps (which were populated mainly by men)? What kinds of challenges would life in a mining town pose for women? What is Clappe's attitude toward the other women whom she encounters in Rich Bar? How do issues of class seem to color Clappe's descriptions of women?

  2. Context: Compare Clappe's account of life in Rich Bar with Caroline Kirkland's narrative of life in the Michigan Territory. What do the two women have in common? How are their accounts of "settling" in new territory different? How do the different regional characteristics of the Midwest and California shape their narratives in different ways? How does each attempt to create a "true picture" of her life as a settler?

  3. Context: Examine the illustration entitled The Winter of 1849 featured in the archive. How does the artist's depiction of life in a mining town compare to Clappe's account of her experiences?

  4. Exploration: Scholars have noted that Bret Harte borrowed heavily from Clappe's letters in his stories "The Outcasts of Poker Flat" and "The Luck of Roaring Camp." Some scholars have also asserted that Mark Twain may have been inspired by an episode in Clappe's letters when he wrote "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County." What does Clappe have in common with these writers of literary regionalism? Why do you think they achieved greater fame and financial profit than she did?

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