Letters From An American Farmer Essay

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This 49-page guide for “Letters From An American Farmer” by J. John de Crèvecœur includes detailed chapter summaries and analysis covering 12 chapters, as well as several more in-depth sections of expert-written literary analysis.

Written by an emigrant French aristocrat turned farmer, the Letters from an American Farmer (1782) posed the famous question: "What, then, is the American, this new man?

," as a new nation took shape before the eyes of the world.

He wonders how the inhabitants of Charles Town, where he saw the dying man, are able to turn a blind-eye to the horrors and abuses of slavery, and suggests that the institution must be ended.

His discussion in general moves away from the optimism and celebration that characterize the earlier letters and take on a more somber and skeptical outlook. Letter XI is another digression as it comes from a Russia visitor to America.The final letter returns to the more somber and skeptical tones of Letter IX, as James discusses the encroaching American Revolutionary War.Torn between loyalties to the nation of his birth, Britain, and his new home, James condemns the violence and chaos of war and decides to flee from both sides and to live among a group of Native Americans. While most people who have taken a course in American literature or history have probably encountered this 1782 book’s third chapter, which provides a utopian answer to the question “What Is an American? John de Crèvecoeur My rating: 5 of 5 stars It might sound odd to call such a ubiquitous text underrated, but I think Letters from an American Farmer is just that.James recounts his time visiting the island and explores many of the inhabitants’ customs and practices, as well as other aspects of their culture.He discusses the origins of the island’s colonial settlement, the religious practices of the Quakers, the fishing and whaling industries, and the ways the location and lifestyles of the community shape the character of its inhabitants.Crèvecoeur’s style—and it is the consciously chosen style of a literary artist, writing in an adopted language, no less—is accordingly simple and eloquent, especially in the second letter’s pastoral and quietly allegorical description of life on the farm, among the birds and the bees.The famous third letter defines the American as a freeholding farmer, made fit for civil freedom by self-sufficient rural labor, and unmenaced by the paraphernalia of a caste-bound, priest-ridden, crowded, and incorrigibly inegalitarian Europe: It is not composed, as in Europe, of great lords who possess every thing and of a herd of people who have nothing.They also address darker and more symbolic elements, particularly slavery.This book is the only critical edition available of what is seen by many as the first-ever work of American literature.


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