After reading this passage, I wonder if this guy was actually as delusional as he sounds? Now a days you never really hear anything great about America anymore, at least not in the way this guy talked about our country. So to me, reading this was a bit strange, he was literally “gassing up” America. This sounds like a story about the American dream, in the eyes of Farmer James. This land is everything he dreamed of. But then towards the end of this passage, he starts to contradict himself and maybe, just maybe, may not feel as great about America as he did at first. Let’s look at some examples of why I think this man was kind of delusional. But I do respect his positivity and outlook on life…
“We have no princes, for whom we toil, starve, and bleed; we are the most perfect society now existing in the world” (19).
The use of the word “perfect” makes me feel uncomfortable for many reasons.
- There is literally no such thing as perfect
- The society was NOT perfect, there were lots of slavery, racism and more
- Many people starve, bleed and more in America as well.
This quote shows that when he first moves to America, he is baffled at how “perfect” it is. He loves this country and everything it stands for.
Another quote used in this text to highlight Farmer James’s thoughts on the country is, “The American is a new man, who acts upon new principles; he must therefore entertain ideas, and form new opinions” (21).
This quote right here represents how Farmer James feels towards the freedom and opportunities this country holds. He came from a country where everyone is ruled under a king and queen and there are only peasants who don’t have many opportunities. So as you can imagine, Farmer James is very impressed and excited about the new life he hopes to build for himself. He looks at America as a new and fresh beginning for him and his family.
How does Letters celebrate, construct, or consolidate a seemingly coherent and positive American national identity?
This book written by Farmer James, shows a lot of positivity towards the country and how amazing it is for all these new settlers. They are granted with so many options, new life styles, jobs, freedom and more. This passage nicely paints a picture of how much freedom America grants its people. It gives it an independent and strong identity, it shows how fortunate we Americans are, to have all this freedom and all these rights.
In what ways does it undermine or destabilize this national identity (even as it seems to celebrate it)?
By giving an unrealistic view of this country. At first James gives his readers a bias view on America. He only talks about the great things at first and how amazing this country is. But we need to remember, we are only seeing what THIS guy likes. We aren’t shown what other guys like Farmer James feel about America. They may not feel the same way as him or agree that it is a perfect society. The biased interpretation of this country is what destabilizes the national identity he tries to show his readers. We can’t believe only one side of a story. Or believe what just one person says.
And ironically, at the end of this passage, James concludes that he still loves this country other than, sharing land with Native Americas, racism/slavery and the war. The more he lives in America, he realizes it isn’t as perfect as it’s made out to be/how he believed it to be.
I almost feel bad for this guy, he was so hyped up about America and his new journey in life, only to realize his beloved country isn’t as great as it seems to be. The first time he starts to realize this is when he runs into the slave inside the cage while walking through the woods. We see Farmer James’s compassion and kindness towards the slaves when he tries to help this poor guy. “…with trembling hands I guided it to the quivering lips of the wretched sufferer” (31). This tragic event that James had to witness was probably when he finally understood, America isn’t as great as it seemed to be.
Poor James. He was so naive and hopeful at first, only to see our country needs one big hug and is a shit show.