Definition of the American
Many people alive today have their own definition of the present-day American. When conveying his definition of an American, Michel-Guillaume Hean de Crevecoeur praises America, presents rhetorical questions, and uses symbolism to present his views.
Crevecoeur’s definition of the American is heavily laced with praise for the individual American, as well as for the nation itself. He states that “the American…ought to love this country much better than that wherein he or his forefathers were born,” boldly pronouncing his positive opinion of America. Crevecoeur defines what an American “ought” to do on more occasions: “The American is a new man acting upon new principles,” is one of the various declarations the writer presents. This, while showing the author’s patriotism and nationalistic tendencies, almost sets the average American up for failure. In stating his high expectations and standards for the American’s daily behavior and attitude toward his country, Crevecoeur makes it nearly impossible for any American to be ‘truly’ American according to his rubric. One may break the law or disagree with the government at one time or another, and then what would he be? One may reasonably doubt that even Crevecoeur himself lived up to this standard during his entire life, which would make the author a hypocrite in that respect. The author begins his passage with a question to his reader: “What attachment can a poor European immigrant have for a country where he had nothing?” He then writes further to elaborate upon this question and its answer. This rhetorical question, used to make a point rather than to inquire the reader’s opinion, serves as the basis for the first half of this detailed definition while allowing the reader to think of his own answer which he then can compare to the author’s. The question also is most likely serving to form a point of agreement between writer and reader because it asks a question that has a nearly...
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