America's Fictional Indian -- From Myth to Man

Eddy, Diane
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University of Hawaii at Manoa
Throughout the course of American fiction, racial minorities generally have had certain stock images. The post-World War II civil rights movement seems to have changed this situation, however. Recent novels have depicted members of minority ethnic groups as ordinary people, seeking and deserving equality with the Caucasians who constitute the main body of United States citizens. For one group, though, the change has been somewhat different. Modifications of the literary image of the American Indian seem to have resulted not so much from simple concern for racial equality as from cultural concern. American life has become increasingly complex since the second World War and dissatisfaction with it has grown steadtly, particularly among young people. In re-evaluating itself, the dominant white culture, and its fiction, has begun looking to the Indian for inspiration. Consequently, the literary Indian has emerged in the last two decades as a very different character from the one long familiar to readers of American novels.
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