ES Interracial Sex and Marriage in Literature and Film ONLINE
Paper 1 Topics
Instructions: Choose ONE of the four topics below. Be sure to discuss both the film, “Pocahontas,” and the novel, Typee. ONLY IF YOU ARE ANSWERING QUESTION #4 are you allowed to just focus on Typee.
Remember to include a strong thesis statement in your introduction and to organize your body paragraphs so that they are focused on ONE main idea and use quotes and evidence from the film/text. Also make sure that you take time to explain your quotes and how they are working for you as evidence.
*Please carefully read the Guidelines and Deadlines on the next page.
The paper topics:
1. Compare and contrast the way in which Native Americans in “Pocahontas” and Marquesans in Typee are portrayed as “savages.” For Native Americans the term is considered extremely offensive. What purpose does this racial/ethnic stereotype of “the savage” serve? What are the limits and flaws in this logic of seeing others as “savages”? Note that Melville moves back and forth between idealizing and mocking Marquesans as “noble savages.” You must discuss both the film and the novel. You must take a stand and explore the deeper meanings of the idea of savagery.
2. Look at the relationship between gender and assimilation. Compare and contrast one character from “Pocahontas” to one character from Typee. How does each character’s participation in a gender role facilitate or impede their assimilation into a different culture? Some of you suggested that Native women were more able to assimilate. Why is this? Others noted that Native men in “Pocahontas” were actually identical to Euro-American characters in the film. Does that mean the men are already portrayed as being “assimilated” but perhaps in a bad way? You must discuss both the film and the novel. Take a stand and explain how these 2 characters are similar and/or not AND why it MATTERS.
3. Examine how the land is portrayed in “Pocahontas” and Typee. Compare and contrast the meaning of the land/landscape. The meanings may change depending on a character’s perspective. For example, in “Pocahontas,” Euro-Americans are portrayed as seeing the land as a possession. A similar perspective is explored in Typee where Tommo claims that the Marquesans don’t practice private property ownership because everything is collectively held. You must discuss both the film and the novel. Take a stand and explain the larger significance to different relationships to the land. How does the relationship to the land impact the overall message of the film and novel?
4. In Typee, Tommo is the one assimilating into Marquesan culture. What does Tommo value about Marquesan culture and why? Often times, we value other cultures because we imagine that they have traits that we lack in our own culture. What traits might Melville see as lacking in American culture? How can you interpret his romantic relationship with Fayaway as a symbol of his “romance” with an exotic foreign culture? For example, Tommo describes how Marquesans are not bound to the same rules about sex, and he seems to be encouraged to have a relationship with Fayaway, as opposed to the film, “Pocahontas,” where interracial relationships are generally not encouraged. You do not need to discuss “Pocahontas” if you are writing on this topic.