What is an analysis of Louise Erdrich's poem "Dear John Wayne"?

"Dear John Wayne" is a poem by Louise Erdrich, a member of the Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, that portrays the experience of Native Americans watching a western film starring John Wayne, highlighting the inherent racism of the genre.

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The poem "Dear John Wayne" is written in the form of a letter addressed to the actor John Wayne, who starred in numerous western films. This genre was set in the western United States and often featured cowboys of European descent as heroes and Indians or Mexicans as antagonists. These films emphasized action, adventure, and violence in spectacular western settings, often with panoramic scenery, horses, and an idealization of small-town life and values. Erdrich's poem tries to show how a Native American audience responded to these films and in doing so critiques how the films were part of a form of cultural propaganda and oppression.

The poem consists of four stanzas written in free verse. It is narrated in the first person plural from the viewpoint of native American teenagers watching a film at a drive-in movie theater. The plural narrator emphasizes that this poem reflects a universal Native American experience rather than just an individual viewpoint.

In the poem, rather than the...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 893 words.)

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on April 16, 2020