Benefits of memoirs
Since the beginning, the winners have always written the history books. But sometimes, we’d rather hear what the loser has to say; or perhaps a neutral bystander, maybe just anyone else at all. So, how does that relate to memoirs? Think back to grade school. What were you taught about the discovery of the Americas? When you think of the Europeans first colonizing the east coast what is now the United States of America, what do you picture? A bunch of Indians clad in loin cloths and headdresses, smoking peace pipes and merrily devouring a huge turkey dinner with a bunch of buckle-shoed pilgrims. Pouring the foundation for the blessed land of unlimited opportunity, the land of the free and the brave? Or, do you see groups of armed white men, taking hundreds of innocent lives. Men who were burning cities and destroying hundreds and hundreds of years of cultural developments, exploiting those native people for their gold and farming techniques, until eventually committing genocide with smallpox infested blankets disguised as gifts? Sometimes, who the person is that you hear the story from can give you a whole new perspective on what the event was actually like. With memoirs be
ing told from a personal perspective, one really has no way of knowing whether the story is being presented impartially at all. However, memoirs are still greatly beneficial literary works despite this fact. In Sherman Alexie’s memoir “Indian Education”, he gives us a look at what it was like growing up on an Indian reservation and going through grade school as a Native American.
Alexie’s story talks about the small, shapeless HUD houses they lived in, meals of “the canned beef that even the dogs wouldn’t eat” (Alexie 6) and paints a sad picture of a bleak life ridden with poverty and alcoholism on an Indian reservation. Reading texts like this one, allows us to reflect on the harsh realities of the world around us. It helps us to be able to feel what life is like for people who were totally stripped of their culture. It also allows us to consider the exterior factors that are responsible for their current condition, and think of what is within our power to help them. We can see the effects of the resistance they endure from white America almost constantly in life, and the reverse racism in the older men on the reservation that has resulted from ye
Some topics in this essay:
Burma, George Orwell, British Empire, Shooting An Elephant, Sherman Alexie, Orwell, Native Americans In The United States, United States Of America, Colonialism, Smallpox,
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