Blood and Thunder: Indians and Manifest Destiny

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Perhaps the most striking part of Blood and Thunder is the famed and fabled Kit Carson himself. He begins the book as a duty-driven youth who is able to kill anyone or anything without a sense of remorse, likely because of his experiences with the harshness of life as a child. However, once he begins to have a family—a real family, one he raises and takes care of and looks after—he begins to shift. Carson begins to balk at some killings, even going so far as to decry the killing of indian warriors at Carleton’s order.

Whether it was the need to take care of his family or the need to find peace in the face of his increasingly failing healthy, Carson provides a look at the changes a man can undergo over the course of his life. He starts as one man, filled with certain ideals and desires, and over the course of his life, his goals and priorities shift. His sense of duty that was instilled in him from his childhood days fails him in his older age, leading him to increasingly attempt to leave behind the front lines and seek solace at home.

This shift in character seems odd when the book is merely skimmed; however, the book structures Carson’s life in a way that provides clear understanding of the changes. This was not an abrupt shift, nor was it a conscious one. This change, rather, came as a result of the overall human need to adjust, to shift with the changes that life presented. This change makes Carson truly feel like a “real person,” someone who isn’t merely a character from a book. It makes Carson human, and thus served to catch my attention.

The second part of Blood and Thunder that caught my attention was the conflict between the American mentality and the mentality of the Native Americans who already lived in the area. As is noted throughout the book, the Native Americans could not understand the point behind many of the “white” traditions that men like Carleton tried to impress upon them. The “white” ways had no resonance with the Native Americans...
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