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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 a result of his conflict with white civilisation. This also sets him apart from the rest of white civilisation. All the white characters that we encounter in the text are revealed as unhealthy, including a "liquor breathed major", a Capitan who "looked hung-over" as well as a peasant who is burdened with a "foul odour". Unlike these characters Dunbar prides himself on maintaining his health and presentation. Moreover the conflict between Dunbar and white culture continues with Dunbar's appreciation for animals. Dunbar has a special relationship with his horse Cisco which is contrary to may other soldiers. Dunbar has a deep appreciation for all animals in the text unlike the white soldiers who kill animals for shooting practice, humour and fun. This very broad conflict between Dunbar and white culture is constructed in stages and is ongoing. As the conflict becomes greater he slowly assimilates into Indian culture in which he finds more substance. Dunbar felt the satisfaction of belonging to something greater than himself. The conflict is resolved by Dunbar deciding to stay and live with the Comanche. It is through this conclusion that Blake infers the values in the text through Dunbar. This decision helped me appreciate the ideals that Dunbar upholds which are important and are not to be dismissed as inconsequential as they have the ability to shape the way we live. Dunbar finds that his quality of life would improve if he were to live with the Comanche but assimilating with a new culture is not simple.

Dunbar is fascinated by the Indian culture and the Comanche way of life and in turn the Comanche are equally as curious. However, the collision of their two worlds causes extensive problems in the text. The difficulty is that white culture and the Indian culture are conflicting in almost every way. There is the obvious communication barrier, the customs and the hostility towards the unknown that have the ability to hinder ones acceptance into a new community. Dunbar overcomes all these obstacles to become a well respected member of the Comanche. The communication barrier although daunting to Dunbar is overcome with the help of Stands With A Fist. Stands With A Fist is a white member of the Comanche tribe who helps Dunbar learn the language. Dunbar astounds the elder members of the tribe as he is fluent in Comanche in only a few months. Through this conflict Blake expresses the value of education. To overcome the communication barrier to assimilate in to the Comanche society Dunbar finds with the acquisition of knowledge comes learning of which he is the



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