Dances with Wolves by Michael Blake

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Conflicts and their resolutions are elements of narrative structure that authors use to shape our understanding of the values in a text. In Dances with Wolves Michael Blake shapes and leads us to understand the values represented in the text through the conflicts surrounding the central character, Lieutenant John Dunbar and his journey from a white society to an indigenous one. At the core of this novel is the deep conflict between the Native Americans and white civilization and a clash of their ideals. It is through the resolution of these conflicts that the reader gains an understanding of the values this novel presents including tolerance, acceptance, nature, and physical wellbeing therefore, allowing him to make full meaning of its strong cultural message.

One of the foremost contentions in the text is between Dunbar and white civilisation. Dunbar is a solider, he is a symbol of the strength and affirmative merits of white civilisation. However, from the beginning of the novel he has been set apart as different. Dunbar upholds an opposing set of values and beliefs to white culture therefore causing dispute. The prairie in which the novel is set holds great significance in the division of these values. When Dunbar first encounters the prairie he is in awe of its immensity, so much so that it makes his "heart jump" and he describes his experience as "religious". Dunbar falls "in love" with the environment. On the other hand the rest of white civilisation had no appreciation of the prairie at all. White civilisation had "written it off, as nothing more than hundreds of worthless miles to be crossed". It is through the text that we gain a greater understanding of the value Dunbar places on the environment and the natural surrounds. This particular conflict is resolved by Dunbar choosing a more simple life and to live amongst the Comanche where he can appreciate the environment in its full extent.

Dunbar's value of physical health and wellbeing is shown as...
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