Creole and Acadian Identities in Literature Analysis

Historical Background

(Society and Self, Critical Representations in Literature)

Historically, Louisiana has enjoyed a rich cultural and literary heritage. Motivated by the threat of assimilation, the people of Louisiana, most notably the Creoles and Acadians, held fast to their French and Spanish roots. In so doing, they developed unique cultural, linguistic, culinary, and religious patterns that gave them strong definition in a country that was becoming increasingly homogeneous.

There has always been an impulse to group the Acadians and Creoles together, but it is necessary to distinguish between the two societies. Finding it difficult to make a productive living in France, the Acadians, an agrarian community, immigrated to what is now known as Nova Scotia, Canada, in the early seventeenth century. Primarily a peasant class, the Acadians found little comfort in their new land, as it was mercilessly cold. Geographic isolation forced this small band of French pioneers to work together in order to survive, fostering in them a strong sense of kinship. When the English (who were in constant conflict with France), suspicious of the French heritage of the Acadians, insisted they assimilate into English society, the result was a sense of Acadian national identity that outlasted the numerous assaults upon Acadian culture. After repeated skirmishes with the British, the Acadians were expelled from Nova Scotia. One literary version of the Acadian experience is American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s long narrative poem Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie (1847).

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(The entire section is 614 words.)