Brian Menezes 02/27/2013 ENG 98 Critical Summary Critical Summary of “What is an American? This historical perspective relates an important theme of the way that Americans are defined in “What is an America” by Jean De Crevecoeur. By using European cultural integration within the theme of being “American”, Crevecoeur essentially reveals how opportunity has made America a nation of many cultures and ethnicities. In being a new nation that could welcome the destitute of Europe to begin new lives, early America becomes the `dream’ of wealth and prosperity for those that have the ourage and industriousness to be pioneers. This historical perspective is worth reading due to the information gathering techniques used by Crevecoeur in relation to the American Dream. ” Upon reading Crevecoeur’s “ What is an American”, one will notice that the Frenchman’s opinion of the United States is quite high, to say the least. In explaining his love for America, and what he feels it means to be “an American”, Crevecoeur draws comparisons between Europeans and Americans. One of the first points he brings up is the diversity of your typical American. They are a mixture of English, Scotch, Irish, French, Dutch, Germans, and Swedes. ” (page 301). Crevecoeur believes that this melting pot, and the “strange mixture of blood” among colonists, is partially responsible for what makes America such a progressive and diverse nation. In addition, Crevecoeur praises those that live in the middle settlements for their “indulgences in government” (page 304), knowledge of religion, and desire to be citizens involved with the government. Europe, on the other hand, is lacking in these types. “What do I say? Europe has no such class of men; the early nowledge they acquire, the early bargains they make, give them a great degree of sagacity. ” (Page 304). Crevecouer also believes that America offers to even the misfortunate a chance to attain wealth and happiness. “Can a wretch who wanders about, who works and starves, whose live is a continual scene of sore affliction or pinching penury, can that man call England or any other kingdom his country? “, “a country that had no bread for him… “, “who met with nothing but frowns from the rich… “, “No! urged by a variety of motives, here they came. ” (page 302).
Opportunities are, according to Crevecouer, more abundant in America. This is why so many chose to emigrate here in the first place. In summary, “What is an American? ” has presented characteristics of an American as enjoying freedoms and dignities absent in other continents, a descendant of a mixed European race, and an industrious and knowledgeable people in sciences and arts. Though a descendant of western pilgrims, Americans are unified people in a continent that allows them equitable rights and freedoms through modern laws, political and economic systems, and social structures.
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