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What do Benjamin Franklin, Olaudah Equiano, and Mary Rowlandson have in common with...

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janetbarnes | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 21, 2009 at 6:15 AM via web

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What do Benjamin Franklin, Olaudah Equiano, and Mary Rowlandson have in common with their pieces and how do they relate to Amercanism?

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akannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 21, 2009 at 6:39 AM (Answer #1)

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The narratives of Franklin, Equiano, and Rowlandson all share the common theme of articulation of voice.  Each expresses the protagonists' notion of identity in the midst of different experiences.  Hardship and challenges seem to play a formative role in each of their evolutions of identity. They all relate to Americanism because each separate narrative helps to explain a different aspect of what it means to be "American."  Each of the voices contribute to a distinct component of the diaspora of American Identity.  For Franklin, the self made narrative component of America is heard. In this voice, we hear of America's strength and the ability to redefine oneself away from a socially stratified setting that defines identity.  Yet, this growth is met by challenges, conflict, and threats.   For Rowlandson, her story speaks to the fear of "the other" which is present in America, and has been present for some time.  America's relationship with the dialectical "other" has been a challenge.  Rowlandson's "captivity narrative" helped to crystallize the understanding that conflict is an inevitable part of American identity.  The result of this "fear" is Equiano's.  As America fights through this conflict, its victory must be met by a countervailing force of defeat.  Though he did not plan it that way nor did he have a hand in it, the subjugation of a group of people has been the result of this conflict, this fear, and worry of "the other."  Examining all three narratives reflects an understanding of the varied understandings of America.

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