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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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•  Using the Video
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•  Activities
- Overview Questions
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Activities: Author Activities

Caroline Stansbury Kirkland - Author Questions

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  1. Comprehension: How do men and women experience frontier life differently, according to Kirkland's analysis in A New Home? What distinct problems and anxieties do women encounter in their new homes in the West?

  2. Comprehension: Chapter 36 is titled "Classes of Emigrants." What characterizes the different "classes" that Kirkland describes? Which classes does Kirkland respect? Which does she condemn? How do issues of class structure Kirkland's portrait of life in the village of Pinckney?

  3. Context: In many ways, Kirkland's sketches of frontier life read like letters home or journal entries. How does her project in A New Home compare to Louise Clappe's descriptive letters about life in the mines in California? How are the narrative personae that these writers develop similar? In what respects do they differ? What kind of audience does each writer assume?

  4. Exploration: A New Home--Who'll Follow? sold well and received favorable notices from important reviewers such as William Cullen Bryant and Edgar Allan Poe. Yet Kirkland's book marks a distinct shift from previous popular descriptions of frontier life--it is neither romanticized nor sentimental nor filled with tales of masculine heroism and adventure. Why do you think Kirkland's work appealed to nineteenth-century readers? Do you think she appealed to the same kind of audience that read Cooper and Nat Love?

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