Going Native in Avatar Shogun and the Last Samurai

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A stranger in a new land must get accustomed to their new lifestyle. In Henry Clavell’s Shōgun, James Cameron’s Avatar, and Edward Zwinks’ The Last Samurai, the protagonists must find a way to learn and live through the native culture. Going native is need for survival in an unknown place. Wearing the clothing, learning the language, falling in love, taking part in lifestyle activities, and risking their lives to be trusted are part of going native. All three works show the protagonist learning to speak the native language. Nathan Algren in The Last Samurai and John Blackthorne in Shōgun learn Japanese and Jake Sully in Avatar learns the Na’vi language. Algren picks up some words while staying with Taka and the family. He begins to say some words at dinner and they become excited, trying to teach him some more basic words. Blackthorne is taught Japanese words from the beginning. Mariko serves as his translator, teaching him along the way. The Jesuit priests make a translation dictionary to help him learn faster. At one point, Blackthorne is told that he has six months to learn Japanese or the entire town dies. Neytiri is put in charge of teaching Sully the Na’vi language. They spend every day together trying to get him to become fluent. By the end of each work, Algren, Blackthorne, and Sully all know how to speak the new language adequately. Dressing into the new culture is also part of going native. Algren and Blackthorne both start to wear Japanese kimonos on a daily basis. Before going into battle, Taka even offers her late husband’s suit of armor to Algren. Sully doesn’t just dress like the Na’vi people but he also takes the body of an avatar. His new body is the same as the Na’vi people. He wears his hair in braids like them and small adorned pieces of clothing. In the end, he leaves his human body and decides to fully live in his new avatar body. All three characters end up dressing and looking like the people of their new culture. When Algren,...
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