Reflections on Hope Leslie

Nope Leslie

Contemporary Native American exerting their agency

Since Hope Leslie was written before the Indian Removal Act (1830), do you think the novel was written in support of removal or against it?

Honestly, I’m far too biased with the knowledge of the 21st century Hindsight 20/20 TM Jaded Frames and Non-Transitional Frames to answer this without sounding bitter. In some lines I can see Catharine Maria Sedgwick attempting to create a complex image of Native American/ White Folk interactions. Magawisca’s father Mononotto has reason to be angry and Sedgwick seems to use sympathy as her method of persuasion. On one level this persuasion is in favor or respecting Native Americans but what does “respect” mean in this case? I would think she would be in favor of the Indian Removal Act of 1830 thinking that it would give Native Americans a “home”.

What is the significance of the severance of Magawisca’s arm?

“The chief raised his deadly weapon, when Magawisca, springing from precipitous side of the rock screamed– “Forbear!” and interposed her arm. (97) By Magawisca taking a traditionally masculine stance she is emasculating Everell. This is all thrown by the wayside when she loses her arm in a way similar of a magical castration. Now Magawisca can pose no threat to Everell’s fragile masculinity even if her future actions eclipse his own.

Do you think the novel should be titled Magawisca instead–why or why not?

I actually don’t think this novel should be titled Magawisca despite my unbridled feelings screaming YASS. Magawisca’s role is a central and important one to the novel but the story ultimately is about the children of two star crossed lovers getting together in the American Wilderness, even if it is not interpreted that way.

How do you interpret the end of the novel given Mielke’s argument in Moving Encounter?

Mielke argues that the Moving Encounter within American literature is actually more detrimental to Native American/ White Folk relations and I agree. It dehumanizes Native Americans into magical creatures that need to be infantilized, brutalized and victimized in order to form any sympathy or understanding. The end of Hope Leslie to me gives little hope for meaningful reconciliation because Magawisca and her people’s otherness, including Faith, is too strongly highlighted.

Does Magawisca fit the noble savage archetype? Is admiration for Magawisca enough?

Magawisca definitely, to me at least, fits some of the noble savage archetype in the way Mowgli does for Rudyard Kipling’s stories. They both subvert the trope be suffer from its implications. Magawisca should not only be admired but her story expanded upon. The Native American story is one of brutalization, loss, erasure and smudging but one of survival. Native American people are not dead they are very much alive and more exposure to their native efforts to better their lives should be highlighted instead of a white savior coming to save or redeem them. Just look at the pipeline crisis.

This dog eyed creep
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2 thoughts on “Nope Leslie

  1. I like that you answered all of the questions! Your title is what drew me because it was witty and seemed to convey a disagreement with the way the novel was titled. I think it’s interesting that you think Sedgwick would be for the Indian Removal Act, and I think I agree with you because Andrew Jackson tried to say that he was doing this for the good of the Indians, so that they’d have a home. This ties in with the fact that Magawisca ultimately has to leave and move westward.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree that Sedwick would favor the Indian removal act. the act was supported in the North because they taught it was an act of mercy. At this point it was clear the Indian demise was inevitable due to American Exceptionalism and the greed of American desire for land. At least with the act it was believed the Indians would be protected under U.S law in their new territory. It didn’t exactly work out that way but what was believed at the time. I agree this character is mainly about interracial love but for me personally like I wrote in my post Magawisca was the most developed character in the book

    Good post

    Liked by 1 person

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