Most American in The Profit of the Smoky Mountains Essay Sample

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What makes Appalachian Americans unique? Starting with characteristics one that most Appalachian’s share is an intense desire for freedom. “Freedom to live as they pleased, with lots of space to themselves– “elbow room”, as Appalachian Daniel Boone used to say. People who settled Appalachia were not inclined to be bound to institutions, religious or otherwise. Those ties and that external authority were part of what they wanted to leave behind. These people brought their traditions, values and beliefs with them. They came into contact with Native Americans, and while doubtless there were fights for land, the settlers and Indians reached an understanding” (How do you know if you’re appalachian). The land area surrounding the Appalachian Americans played an important role in the development of the culture. The mountains kept insiders close and outsiders away. Thus they shared cultures, traditions, ways and beliefs.

They lived independent lives yet maintained the family background that enabled them to come together in times of need. They shared music, religions and many other things (How do you know if you’re appalachian). The Prophet of the Great Smoky Mountains is a novel wrote by Mary Noailles Murfree in 1885. It is important to know the setting of the novel to understand the characters and what makes them uniquely American. The setting within the Smoky Mountains makes this an ideal place to find a number of uniquely American characters. The Smoky Mountains are often referred to as the Appalachians, a series of mountains that run some 2,000 miles from Canada to central Alabama. “They have played a vital role in the settlement and development of the entire continent.

They combine a heritage of natural beauty and a distinctive regional culture with contemporary problems of economic deprivation and environmental deterioration” (Dykeman). A number of pioneers where the first to move into Appalachian Mountains, they often found the valleys and large gaps made it difficult to travel, later roads and trains would tie the nation together (Mountain Facts). The mountains “combine a heritage of natural beauty and a distinctive regional culture with contemporary problems of economic deprivation and environmental deterioration” (Dykeman). Economically the Appalachian Mountain range has a thick natural forest that produces a large amount of lumber for the early pioneers in the region. In addition coal beds, iron ore, salt springs and granite and marble rock created a major industry for America that continues today. The mountains, terrain, conditions, environment, hard work within the industries and economic conditions all work together to create a unique American man and/or woman. The economic condition was in the past and is still currently considered to be at or near the poverty line.

This is compounded by the lack of education within the region from its early period. While it is still currently considered a lower education level it has improved with the present day education system. The dialect of the Smoky Mountain region must also be addressed prior to identifying any character from the novel as uniquely American. Appalachian English (dialect) is without question unique within the world and even more specifically within the Appalachian region of the United States of America. Most people feel that the dialect spoken by the people within the region is that of a somewhat uneducated people. “Educated people who look with disfavor on this particular form of speech are perfectly honest in their belief that something called The English Language, which they conceive of as a completed work – unchanging and fixed for all time – has been taken and, through ignorance, shamefully distorted by the mountain folk” (Dial). However the mountain folk slang describing the dialect is totally untrue.

The dialect should be classified as archaic. Expressions heard in the region could also be found in works completed by English authors: Shakespeare, Chaucer Alfred to note a few (Dial). “Southern mountain dialect (as the folk speech of Appalachia is called by linguists) is certainly archaic, but the general historical period it represents can be narrowed down to the days of the first Queen Elizabeth, and can be further particularized by saying that what is heard today is actually a sort of Scottish-flavored Elizabethan English. This is not to say that Chaucerian forms will not be heard in everyday use, and even an occasional Anglo-Saxon one as well” (Dial). While searching “The Profit of the Great Smoky Mountains” one character that stands out as being a unique American is Granny or Mis’ Cayce. Mis’ Cayce is an elderly woman whose birth was probably in the early 1800’s in the Appalachian community she still lived in.

She grew up, grew old and will die in the region, probably without ever leaving it. In her first introduction she wore a “cap, which had a flapping frill and was surmounted by a pair of gleaming spectacles. A bandana kerchief was crossed over her breast, and she wore a blue-and- white-checked homespun dress of the same pattern and style that she had worn here fifty years ago” (Murfree). Her dress was that of 18th century garments. The frilled cap was probably a Bavolette which “was a ribbon frill at the back of the bonnet. Its purpose was covering the neck, which was considered an erogenous zone in the mid-19th century” (History of Hats for Women). The Bavolette covered the back area of the neck, as exposure of this area was considered to be “scandalous”. The image of Granny having a Bavolette hat would seem correct. Just after the Civil War the bonnet headdress shrank and started to expose the neck more which would make it less likely that Granny would have been wearing another hat.

This hat was considered a unique American cap of the time and would have been worn by a more hardworking lady, Granny in this case. The longer back end also served a functional purpose of keeping the sun from hitting the back of the neck while working on the farm eliminating sunburns on that area of the body. Mis’ Cayce’s wore “bandana kerchief was crossed over her breast, and she wore a blue-and- white-checked homespun dress of the same pattern and style that she had worn here fifty years ago” (Murfree). “Bandanas came to the Americas with pirates who came to the Caribbean sea to plunder gold filled Spanish galleons. Later the bandana came with the British colonists and the Red Coats and stayed in America ever since” (Mackley). The bandana in America during Granny’s time had a number of purposes. It could be used as a tool for first aid, sun and sand protection, head gear to keep your eyes clear from hair, ear muffs in the cold and of course to catch sweat from your forehead while working during the hot summer days.

Her homespun dress would have been a traditional “common work clothing” for the time period in America. In the 18th century many Americans would homespun linen and/or wool to use for everyday dresses and other clothing. The climate in the New England states and further south would encourage the growing of flax. In addition many of the Irish emigrants came to America with a strong background in weaving. This while it may seem easy the process of of weaving and turning flax and possibly fleece into a usable material to manufacture your own wool clothing took a lot of time and was very hard and difficult to do. To make it even more difficult the “Blue-and-white checked” would have increased the effort required due to the use of dye. “Her hands were tremulous and gnarled and her face was deeply wrinkled, but her interest in life was as fresh as Mirandy Jane’s” (Murfree). This description of Granny is 100% uniquely American. Her hands are worn from the hard work on the farm every day of her life, it was the Appalachian way of life.

The works hands represent the American culture at the time, working hard to build a strong foundation for a strong country. Her face was deeply wrinkled as a result of the sun beating down on her face daily while working the farm, building a life for herself and her family. The hard work once again while not a unique, but considered for this work of Granny’s character a uniquely American trait, that makes her uniquely American. Granny was a hard working American who’s simple mind and clear focus was on her building a free future for her family. Granny told Mirandy Jane to “Run an’ tell the sher’ff we air dishin’ up dinner right now, an’ ax him an’ his gang ter’ light an’ hitch, an’ eat it along o’ we-uns’” (Murfree). Her warm southern hospitality is also uniquely American. She is welcoming of strangers in this case she corrected Mirandy Jane, who though the men were raiders. Once Granny realized the men were from law enforcement (the sheriff) she greeted them with open arms the only way as a unique American that she knew how too.

Granny’s dialect is also unique to America and more specifically Appalachian American. “’It ‘pears like ter me ez the young folks nowadays air awk’ard an’ back’ard. I war married when I war sixteen–sixteen scant’”. (Murfree) Granny’s words are full of American Appalachian from her youth growing up, to middle age and now in her older age Granny is 100% American. In no other country worldwide would you find the English dialect of Granny. Unique Americans come in all shapes, forms, sizes, race and religions. They come from all over the United States and reach further from all over the world. Americans immigrated from the all over the world to form their own culture, their own beliefs and to seek the freedom they often were not able to find in other locations worldwide. Granny is a unique American seeking her Appalachian and American freedoms granted her by the Continuation of the United States of American, which is what makes Granny a unique American.

Works Cited
Dial, Wylene P. The Dialect of the Appalachian People. January 1969. 21 November 2014. Dykeman, Wilma. Encyclopedia Britannica. 29 10 2014. 21 November 2014. . History of Hats for Women. 19 March 2012. 21 11 2014. “How do you know if you’re appalachian.” n.d. Document (PDF). 21 November 2014. Mackley, Aaron. History of Weastern Bandana. 25 June 2011. 21 November 2014. Mountain Facts. n.d. 21 11 2014. Murfree, Mary Noailles. The Prophet of the Great Smoky Mountains. 1885. 21 November 2014.

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