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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
•  Authors
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•  Activities
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Activities: Author Activities

Nat Love - Author Questions

Back Back to Nat Love Activities
  1. Comprehension: What kinds of labor does Love perform over the course of his life? How does he make his career choices? What motivates his transition from one job to another?

  2. Context: Readers might expect Love to be somewhat bitter about the development of the railroad since it led to the demise of his cowboy lifestyle, yet he embraces his career as a Pullman Porter. What does Love find appealing about the railroad? Does his attitude reflect a typically American attitude toward technological change? What insights do his discussions of rail line procedure give us into the corporate structure and philosophy of the Pullman Company in the nineteenth century? What is Love's attitude toward the management of the railroad? How does his portrait of the railroad compare to Ruiz de Burton's?

  3. Context: Examine the photographs of Nat Love featured in the archive, particularly the image of him in his cowboy gear and the image of him wearing his Pullman Porter uniform. In what kinds of conventions of portraiture do these photographs engage? How do Love's different "costumes" impact viewers' understanding of his identity in these pictures? Where are there points of overlap between these photographs of two very different stages in Love's life?

  4. Context: In 1880, George M. Pullman, the president and founder of the Pullman Palace Car Company, began to transform the prairies south of Chicago into a model town for his railroad-car production workers. By creating the town Pullman hoped to improve the morale and health of his workers, while simultaneously increasing productivity and decreasing strikes and labor unrest. This model extended to the other workers for the Pullman Company, such as porters like Love. Compare Love's view of working for the Pullman Company to Pullman's philosophy.

  5. Exploration: Why do you think pop cultural representations of the "Old West" usually portray both cowboys and pioneers as Anglo-Americans? How does Nat Love's autobiography challenge traditional images of cowboy life? Does Love's narrative also participate in certain stereotypes?

  6. Exploration: Compare Nat Love's depiction of African American-Native American relations to those in Briton Hammon's "Narrative" (Unit 7). How does each author respond to his captors? To what extent can each of the captivities be read on a spiritual or symbolic level? To what extent does race affect the nature of their captivities?

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