Content Category

Literary Criticism

Abstract/Description

Citizens of the United States come from a variety of cultures. Authors who come from ethnic backgrounds often find themselves in a middle ground between their culture and that of the dominant “American” culture. One such example is Yankton-Sioux author Zitkála-Šá. Most critics analyze either Zitkala-Sa’s response to mistreatment of Native American peoples, or the influences of Anglo-American culture in her works, thus diminishing her Yankton-Sioux identity and emphasizing Anglo-American Identity. One such example is Catherine Kunce’s essay “Fires of Eden: Zitkala-Sa’s Bitter Apple”, which demonstrates how Christian symbolism informs Zitkala-Sa’s work. I argue that Zitkála-Šá includes Native American symbolism, including seasonal setting, colors, and the unity of opposites, in her autobiographical essays “Impressions of an Indian Childhood” and “The School Days of an Indian Girl”, as well as The Sundance Opera. By doing so, she emphasizes her Native Identity, and brings more attention to minority voices in bicultural literature.

Origin of Submission

as part of a class

Faculty Involvement

Dr. Michael Taylor

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The Other Side of Biculturalism: Native American Symbolism in the Writings of Zitkala-Ša

Citizens of the United States come from a variety of cultures. Authors who come from ethnic backgrounds often find themselves in a middle ground between their culture and that of the dominant “American” culture. One such example is Yankton-Sioux author Zitkála-Šá. Most critics analyze either Zitkala-Sa’s response to mistreatment of Native American peoples, or the influences of Anglo-American culture in her works, thus diminishing her Yankton-Sioux identity and emphasizing Anglo-American Identity. One such example is Catherine Kunce’s essay “Fires of Eden: Zitkala-Sa’s Bitter Apple”, which demonstrates how Christian symbolism informs Zitkala-Sa’s work. I argue that Zitkála-Šá includes Native American symbolism, including seasonal setting, colors, and the unity of opposites, in her autobiographical essays “Impressions of an Indian Childhood” and “The School Days of an Indian Girl”, as well as The Sundance Opera. By doing so, she emphasizes her Native Identity, and brings more attention to minority voices in bicultural literature.