Native Guard Essay

1536 words 7 pages
Egstrand 1 Alyssa Egstrand Professor Sewell ENG: The Literary Experience 1331 28 September 2011 Investigating the Impact of History on Modern Society within Natasha Trethewey’s Native Guard Rooted in the shadows of history, Native Guard by Natasha Trethewey intertwines personal and historical accounts to scrutinize the impact of the past on the present. Trethewey’s Native Guard is divided into three sections, which chronicle her mother’s life and death, the erased history of the Louisiana Native Guard, and Trethewey’s childhood in Mississippi. These different stories amalgamate, and open a dialogue about the impact of history on today’s world. Throughout Native Guard Trethewey infuses emotion into these untold stories by including personal …show more content…

In addition, Trethewey’s description of the palmetto plants adds yet another layer of these plants’ metaphorical importance. Primarily these plants are described as ‘symbols of victory’, a simplistic description interconnecting to Trethewey’s prior allusion to the

Egstrand 3 Revolutionary War. By claiming that the palmetto plants show ‘victory’ also alludes to the South’s refusal to accept defeat, furthering Trethewey’s argument of perpetual nature of the past by illustrating lingering disillusions in the South today. The secondary component of the portrayal of the palmetto plants, the notion that they are also a symbol of ‘defiance’, confirms the Southern resistance to change. The connection between the palmetto plants’ history as an integral inspiration for the Confederacy, and their prolonged prominence in the South, exemplifies their symbolic ‘defiance’ and clearly illustrates the impact of history on the modern-day Southern culture. While describing the nature of the palmetto plants Trethewey also explains how these plants came to exist in the South. As illustrated by Trethewey palmettos are not indigenous to the South, the native species of ‘mangrove, live oak, gulfweed’ had to be erased to enable the palmettos existence. This metaphor ties back to the very cataclysm of slavery, slaves’ humanity was erased to enable their masters to thrive during antebellum era. Trethewey’s representation of the horrors of slavery portrayed by the introduction the foreign


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