exam 2 essay compilation - The Wolf & The Buffalo...

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Author Elmer Kelton brings a quite introspective and knowledgeable insight into the emerging American character “taming the West” and also into the fading Great Plains natives by following a soldier’s story from both sides of the cultural conflict. As he states in his intro, the Comanche’s “way of life was collapsing with an awesome suddenness”. In contrast the integrating African-American population “was on the ascent , gradually acquiring confidence and self-esteem”. Both cultures are treated fairly according to the standards of their age. The Native Americans of the West are accurately depicted as a whole entirely separate world with completely different ideals and future than their contemporary “Americans”. The figure Gray Horse belongs to a tribe of Comanches , who have controlled the Great Plains areas of Texas and it’s peripheral parts where they live off buffalo. His whole culture is based on hunting and killing – both the bison and other enemy nations like the Apaches. The men were like Spartans in that they were all warriors if they could physically do it. The people lived self-sufficiently with no thought of diplomacy and with an aggressive policy of raiding settlements which drew the wrath of the United States Army during this time. In the book, a good expression of their own way of thought is found in how Gray Horse describes settler’s goods. Alcohol is known as “make-crazy water” and houses of the “tejanos” are seem as terrible for necessary seasonal migrations. The “white-faced blue-eyed spoilers “ tilled up good land that bison could have used. The majority of the Indians like Gray Horse’s Comanches nobly refused to assimilate , which is why even ‘’to the Black soldiers, the Indian was the same deadly enemy as he appeared to the Whites”. The figure Gray Horse seeks battle as his way at manhood, as he seeks his spiritual medicine from meditating on nature. At the Battle of Palo Duro creek, his people’s way of life suffers a crushing blow by a surprise attack by US troops including the ex-slave Gideon Ledbetter. In contrast to Gray Horse, the character of Gideon Ledbetter seeks soldiering for more of an opportunity at a new life. Negros like himself and his partner Jimbo are just starting the life of freed men, as blacks have been freed by the victorious Union and are used now as regulars in its conquest of the West. It was an uneasy life earned in a dominant Anglo American society. Negros were a simple but developing sub-culture in this dynamic period. Opportunities such as being in the Black 10 th Cavalry based at Ft. Sill were not easy but still a better shot at a dignified noble career. Gideon and Jimbo got their chance when Jimbo uses his equestrian skills to impress an Army officer starting a Black-only cavalry unit. They were insecure ex-slaves of a Louisiana plantation owner named Colonel Hayworth, and a telling quote is when Ledbetter’s sergeant ask him if he’s as good as a white person. Ledbetter mumbles
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This note was uploaded on 02/01/2010 for the course HIST 320P taught by Professor Brown during the Fall '09 term at University of Texas at Austin.

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exam 2 essay compilation - The Wolf & The Buffalo...

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