The American Frontier Research Paper

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The American frontier has been constantly redefined by Americans throughout its two-hundred year history. Early American colonists viewed the unending expanse of forest to the west with fear and awe. The untamed wilderness with its savage Indians and fast-flowing rivers; however, did little to curb the desire for expansion developed by those willing to trade a civilized life in Europe for the unknown of America. Although the frontier slowly disappeared through technological advancement, the undying want to grow and expand further west has ingrained itself in American culture. In literature, the frontier is not simply the uncivilized unknown of the early American west but represents a truly American aspiration. The definition of the American…show more content…
Covering a period from the early 1740s to the start of the 19th century, each novel shows the early American desire to spread further into the unexplored lands west of the Appalachian Mountains. In The Deerslayer, The Last of The Mohicans, and The Pathfinder, Bumppo remains in the slowly developing New York colony and finds himself embroiled in multiple battles against Native Americans. From his attempt to rescue Chingachgook’s bride in The Deerslayer to the Massacre at Fort William Henry in The Last of the Mohicans, Natty develops into a “heroic” frontiersman always keen for adventure. This draw toward adventure that Bumppo and many early American frontiersmen sensed is perhaps the first example of American restlessness in the New World. The call of the wilderness and adventure would continue to ingrain itself in American culture throughout the country’s history. In The Pioneers, Cooper takes Bumppo out of the action to view the effect of the rapidly developing frontier. Otsego Lake, as seen in The Deerslayer, is now a growing frontier town and Bumppo is out of place in the “civilized” villages of the American colonies. Unable to bear the idea of the vanishing frontier, Bumppo travels west in The Prairie to the Great Plains where he continues to fight the encroaching of settlers until his death. Bumppo’s life on the frontier…show more content…
In The Leather-Stocking Tales, the frontier develops a desire to expand farther West and a sensation of restlessness in Bumppo when forced to remain in one place too long. In The Sun Also Rises, the frontier’s effect on American culture dramatically affects the behavior of the expatriate group, leaving them with a sense of hopelessness stemming from an inherent want to grow and be free. Finally, in The Great Gatsby, the restlessness of American culture is exaggerated by the Roaring Twenties, as people like Gatsby attempt to transform this desire for growth into a 20th century equivalent. Although the frontier slowly disappeared throughout America’s history, its importance cannot be understated. Its influence in American culture has developed a desire to grow, a desire for freedom, all underlain by a quintessential American sense of
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