What is the major theme in chapter 7?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The basic theme of oppression as part of the narrative in American History comes out in chapter 7.  Zinn opens in discussing how women in the time period represented the most "interior" form of oppression, and how the most "exterior" form of repression and silencing voices came in the form of Native Americans.  Zinn argues that the Westward Expansion that was dominant in 19th Century American politics and in its historical development came at a particular price paid by the Native Americans.  The theme of oppression is illuminated with how there was a systematic marginalization of Native Americans in terms that represented both interior and exterior control.  Native Americans were demonized by the American government and their forced relocation represented a way in which White society and government drove the Native Americans away from view.  In this, silencing of voices operated on both interior and exterior levels because the subjugation of an entire group of people was done on a level in which privacy was eviscerated in the name of control.  The repression of which Zinn speaks was one in which the forceable movement of Native Americans represented the dominant theme of oppression on both interior and exterior levels.  This theme is only highlighted by the death of an estimated 4,000 Native Americans on the Trail of Tears.  Detailing the oppression on both levels becomes the main theme of chapter 7.


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