Literary Essay Example: Symbolic Function of the Big Indian

2 pages
531 words
Carnegie Mellon University
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It is a common phenomenon for people to have ideas, suggestions, and opinions towards things, events, and even other people. When people cannot come up with a definite answer or logic behind something, they tend to formulate theories. Theories are proof that no definite answer was obtained and that people always attempt to explain everything. Therefore, theories, however accurate they may sound or appear, have a certain percentage error in them. They are not to be trusted blindly, and they are best evaluated before they can be validated. Perhaps the most speculative theories are ones concerning other people. Many are the times that people have created perspectives and stereotypes on others based on their culture, size, age, looks, and even place of origin. In Thomas Kings novel, A Seat in the Garden, there is an established perspective within the American Society. They have a way of relating and associating Native Americans with their countries of origin. The general public operates based on the various stereotypes which are not only discriminating but also demeaning. For instance, there are some of the age old stereotypes that blacks are violent, Asians are book-smart, and Mexica are gangsters. This paper is going to expound on the symbolic function of the big Indian in Thomas Kings short narrative, A Seat in the Garden.

The first and most prominent symbolic role of the big Indian is that he is used to enhancing the theme of racism. Joe is an original American and owns a garden that he works every day. One day while he was working in the garden, he noticed an enormous Indian standing right in his garden. First, Joe was scared, and this is a very typical reaction as he did not expect him. However, what he did next could not be justified at all. He started cursing out the big Indian asking him to get out of his garden without having a single care what he had to say or the reason he was there.

Get the hell out of the corn, will ya! Joe shouted.

The symbolic function of the big Indian was to show how callous Native Americans like Joe were to immigrants. Perhaps if it were a person of the same race as Joe, he would have given him some consideration and at least treated him with some respect. Secondly, Joe called the cops on this big Indian even if he had done nothing malicious or anything that might have led Joe into making such a move. This further enhances the stereotyping that Joe had on people who were not Native Americans. Such people were always treated with some contempt even though deep down, some of them were as innocent as can be. Eventually, with the help of other Indians, Joe got the courage to approach the big Indian in the middle of his garden. It turns out that the big Indian was well-meaning unlike what Joe initially thought. All he wanted was a bench to sit on because he was getting tired of standing and he did not want to mess Joes garden (Strauss, Rochelle, and Rosemary Woods).

Works Cited

Strauss, Rochelle, and Rosemary Woods. One Well. Toronto, Kids Can Press, 2007,.

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