Although each early American writer had their own voice, many of them incorporated the same features in their writing. While some writers focused on their religious conviction and a need to connect to God, other writers desired self-promotion or they tried to spin narratives that would “sell” the New World to Europeans. Even though both versions explored different forms, structures and depictions of the New World, each author presented themes that resonated with the other. Many Early Colonial writers often hid their own need for self-preservation in their narratives. Among the many examples of Early American writings you find common themes, subjects and narrative style. But, unlike most American movements where writers often mirror each other in tone and structure many of the Early American writers kept a strong sense of self while writing about the New World. John Smith focused on exploration and the adventures behind discovering the new world, similar to William Bradford who documented the pilgrimage from Brittan to the New World. Smith, however, focuses on a romantic depiction of the New World and himself as he describes life in Jamestown. In his narrative he speaks of himself in the third person, which can often distract the reader. It provides Smith with a celebrity that he may not have received as just a man because in his narration he is the equivalent of a modern day superhero. He describes in exuberant detail the way “Smith” was attacked by “200 savages” which he fought off and killed two, tying his native American guide to his “arm with his garters and used him as a buckler” (63). Smith focuses on selling himself as a commodity almost as much as he focuses on “selling” the land because he knew he would profit from it. In the New World were few had housing or food, much less wealth, he wanted to attract wealthy settlers from Brittan who could come and settle in America because he expected they would call on him, the first American hero, to show them the ropes. Although Bradford’s narrative is also a depiction of true events that read similar to a diary, Bradford’s need of self-preservation is less evident to many readers. He does not focus on himself as a character but instead uses the chance to document the other 100+ pilgrim’s fleeing Great Brittan in pursuit of religious freedom. Bradford establishes the superiority of the travelers as he explains that many people “desired to be with them, [but] could not endure that great labor and hard fare,” of travelling across the Atlantic Ocean. In doing this he is reflecting on the travelers and their passage as an act of strength and an example of their conviction. Religious members of Brittan who feared persecution or members of society who would want to display their own strength and or took his words as a challenge. Bradford never comes across as a man who needs to show his strength or be admired. Instead he connects everything to God, he gives ever sliver of credit to God and is constantly reminding the other travelers that this is His will, not theirs. The Pilgrim’s choose to leave because they were excited to lay some “good foundation,” (87) insinuating that the New World was going to be a more Godly land than Brittan, and thus would be blessed by God. Where as Smith’s need for self-preservation is connected to his desire to prosper in the New World and for the New World to flourish with wealthy members of society, Bradford focuses more on the spiritual self-preservation. He wants the New World to flourish because it will give him more people to covet for God, and it could also solidify his place as a member of the “Elect” in the eyes of God. He takes a truthful approach to illustrating the hardships the travelers endured not because it was the right thing to do or because no one else had spoken so truthfully about the New World, he did it to show the trials the travelers had been through so those who traveled would revere them as the strongest...
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