Early America Vs. Progressive America

“The Story of Alice Green” (1829) written by Samuel Goodrich starts in Norwich, Connecticut. It involves a little girl who lives with her aunt and must find a way to travel to her father in Boston. She must reach Boston as soon as possible so that her and her father may be able to sail to England. The little girl’s aunt enlists the help of a Native American, Uncas, to carry Alice from Connecticut to Boston during the long, cold winter.  On the five day journey to Boston, Alice and Uncas face terrible conditions. However, Uncas is able to protect Alice from the cold weather. At the end of the story, Alice remembers “the fidelity of the kind hearted Indian” and spends the rest of her days in England (Goodrich, Page 16). The story is narrated by a third party and his language implies that he is speaking to young children; almost  

It struck me as odd that the narrator who tells the story of Alice Green often refers to Uncas as “the Indian” (even though he is a Native American). For example, he calls Uncas “the strong Indian”, “the hardy Indian”, “the watchful Indian” and other things (Goodrich, Page 10,12,14). However, Alice is always called by her name. It also struck me as odd that the story is named after Alice Green when in fact, the real protagonist is Uncas. In a way, by not calling Uncas by his real name and focusing on Alice’s feelings, the narrator redirects me, the reader, away from Uncas difficult labor.

This contrast greatly to some children’s media that exist today. One specific example of this is the TV show “Dora the Explorer” (2000). The show “Dora the Explorer” revolves around a young girl of spanish descent who explores different places, some even fantastical that involve pirates and mermaids. This contrast to the “Story of Alice Green” which is rooted in a very real and historical town in Connecticut and involves a real Native American tribe.  Dora usually narrates the show herself and often asks her viewers to participate as she problem solves. This is very different from Alice who relies on the help of Uncas to get to her father. Dora is an example of a modern progressive American children’s “text”. The heroine is not of European descent, but instead speaks to the minority American group. The involvement of the children viewers in her problem solving can help them build their own methods of problem solving instead of being force fed a narrative.


Works Cited

Goodrich, Samuel G. The Story of Alice Green: One of Peter Parley’s Winter Evening Tales. Boston: S.G. Goodrich, 1829. Boston Literary History. Web. 15 Oct. 2015. <http://www.bostonliteraryhistory.com/chapter-4/samuel-griswold-goodrich-story-alice-green-one-peter-parley%E2%80%99s-winter-evening-tales-boston>

One thought on “Early America Vs. Progressive America

  1. Another good post.

    Just FYI. One Early Americanists didn’t necessarily have the language or world view to call Native Americans, “Native Americans.” They actually saw themselves as the Nativist. I’m no saying it’s not offensive, but I am saying it’s hard to hold a piece of early 1800s writing to the standards of 21st century politics and knowledge.

    I do think your point about how the narrative doesn’t refer to Uncas by his name and the way the narrative continues to insist on Alice as the center is important.

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