Early American Literature


Early American literature consisted mainly of diaries, journals, short stories, and Indian creation stories. Since some of the language used was of older English and other languages, early American literature was difficult to read.

The first story I read was Spanish Explorers in the New World. This story was a journal of Cabeza de Vaca?s travels and discoveries in the New World. After having a shipwreck, he and his fellow sailors were made slaves of the Indians. They walked barefoot, bleeding and ate raw meat for food. He also described how one tribe took over land. De Vaca gave detailed accounts on how the Indians lived which I found interesting. The males lived in the estufas, while women lived in the house. For a proposal, the male would weave a blanket and place it before the female. Spanish Explorers In The New World was interesting because of the detail with the Indians as opposed to other stories which involve no action.

The second piece of early American literature I read was The General History. The Jamestown colony as plagued from the beginning by unfortunate circumstances. While out exploring, John Smith was captured by the Indians. After being brought to many chiefs, John Smith was brought to the emperor of the Pamaunkee. The emperor had planned to kill John Smith at first by placing his head against a rock and bashing it in. Then Pocahontas, the emperor?s daughter, threw her head in the way and prevented his death. The emperor then decided to let Smith live and to have him as a slave. This story also had more action than some other which I read which does make it interesting, but every once in a while it is difficult to understand due to the Old English. This story was insightful into the lives of one tribe of Indians near Jamestown.

The third passage I read was an excerpt from The Bay Psalm Book. In this the Puritans had re-edited the Bible and tried to simplify its words. Their version was modified to rhyme and to have what the Puritans referred to as "plainness." They believed that life should be plain and stiff. This version of 23 A Psalm of David was difficult to decipher and I thought that the meaning had mean changed some.

In conclusion, I have learned that early American literature was exciting in some cases, such as those of real life people and their adventures, and boring and difficult to comprehend in others, such as in the "plainness" of the Puritans.