Heroes of the American West Critical Context - Essay

Critical Context

Pappas’ anthology contains some very good selections by some carefully chosen authors. The discussion questions at the end of each section enable readers to check their comprehension of the pieces read. If followed, the composition suggestions and related research questions could lead to a much broader knowledge. The suggested readings contain some classics of Western frontier literature, such as Bret Harte’s The Luck of Roaring Camp and Other Sketches (1870), but some of the books are so old and so hard to find that they are impractical suggestions.

There are not very many women described in this collection, despite the fact that women were known to be present in almost all areas of the frontier. The few selec-tions from women do not tell the reader anything about day-to-day life on the frontier or discuss the heroism in enduring the routine events of life that deserves remembering. Only one story deals with farmers, yet these were the people who did the most to make the frontier productive, and they were also the largest group there. The most obvious omission is of Native Americans. The Western frontier was their home, but not a single one is presented as a hero. Pappas could have included such figures as Sacagawea or Chief Joseph.