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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

John Rollin Ridge (Yellow Bird) - Teaching Tips

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  • Some critics have claimed that the story of Joaquin Murieta appealed to Ridge because it shares some important similarities with his own life. Ask students to consider this theory. How does the disruption of Murieta's life by sudden violence compare to Ridge's early history? How does Murieta's obsession with revenge resonate with Ridge's own experiences? You might also ask students to consider the more general similarities between the Cherokees' forced migration from their traditional lands in Georgia to less desirable land in Oklahoma and the dispossession of Mexican miners and ranchers in California in the mid-nineteenth century.

  • Ridge concludes his novel by citing its "lesson" for his readers: "There is nothing so dangerous in its consequences as injustice to individuals--whether it arise from prejudice of color or from any other source... a wrong done to one man is a wrong to society and the world." Ask students to contemplate this moral and its applicability to the story of Joaquin Murieta. How does the novel justify this moral? How does Ridge use his narrative to generate sympathy for Murieta?

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