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The Life and Adventures of Joaquin Murieta, Essay Example

Pages: 4

Words: 1184

Essay

The Life and Adventures of Joaquin Murieta, the Celebrated California Bandit

There exist numerous versions of the American dream as do Americans themselves. However, the most popular one and the one that is synonymous with all the versions of the American dream is one where one would obtain all material things that would lead to the ultimate state of joy and happiness. These material things would be obtained through a good and solid education, which would lead one to gain a good and well-paying job and finally obtaining the material things that pertain to the American dream (Hanson and White).

James Truslow in his 1931 publication, The Epic of America, depicts the American dream as the hope of a land where life could be better, fuller and richer for all, everyone with opportunities according to their achievement or ability (Adams). He defines the ideal American dream as a quest for fulfilment as opposed to the quest for material wealth. He defines the American Dream as a state of social order where all should be able to attain maximum realization and fulfilment regardless of background or history.

The vision of the American dream was founded on the fundamental trust in the American institutions. However, Joaquin Murieta and Claudio depict their version of the American dream. After undergoing a number of atrocities at the hands of Anglo inhabitants, Joaquin decides that he would take what he wanted and no one would stop him.

However the American dream is self-destructing. This is because as many strived to provide a better and comfortable life for their families, they would soon get engulfed in the drive and ambition and end up losing touch with their families and their spouses they supposedly cherish. While a close-knit, happy family is at the center of the American dream, however the principles of career always appear to conflict with this concept of family. This is because the lifestyle that a career demanded always ended up leaving little to no time for personal interaction with family and friends. This was a trap, a prison of sorts, which one could not get time to interact with the very people they sought to give a good life, leaving one’s personal fulfilment unattended to.

In the same manner, Joaquin and Claudio pursued a self-destructing dream. They chose a path that would constantly expose their lives to threats. Their long run against the law epitomized the demise of their dream as they never had the opportunity to properly enjoy they wealth they had taken. Furthermore, none of the bandits within the narrative ever had a fulfilling family life as their profession would not allow such an endeavor.

Geography of the Narrative

This narrative is set in California. Interestingly the publishers depicted Ridge as the axiomatic Native American who was born in the middle of the woods with direct contact with the wild. However, Ridge was of a rich background from Georgia. The setting is best suited for the narrative as it is during the California Gold rush, where everyone raced to make a fortune. Most of the narrative occurs in California where Joaquin builds up his group of bandits (Brands). His adventures together with his group of bandits traverse through Rancho San Luis Gonzaga, San Gabriel, Jackson, Stockton, Calaveras County, San Jose, San Andreas and Mariposa County.

At the time, California depicted tremendous economic growth and development as depicted in the manner in which the outlaw gangs moved and attacked. One could notice that the gangs had their attacks spread out through the different counties within the state, always attacking ranches and looting the livestock and valuables. After heat on the Feliz gang increased, Joaquin left for Los Angeles to realize some sense of peace and safety. Los Angeles s depicted as a much safer place in all of California. Joaquin understands this fact and is the main reason for moving there and even warming up to Ana Benitez.

California as a Transnational Space

As the reader progresses through the novel, it becomes apparent that the state of California is morphing into a transnational space. This is resulting from all the economic activity that has drawn different cultures and nationalities into California. This is clearly depicted in the manner in which Claudio’s gang conducted its attacks. After Claudio escaped Stockton prison, he assembled one of the most notorious gangs. His gang mainly comprised of a number of Indians. However, the majority of the gang was Hispanic (Ridge and Reilly). Furthermore, the gang’s leadership was purely Hispanic, giving him the control he needed over the gang.

Most of the counties within the state of California had a generally good mix of cultures. This is clearly depicted in the manner in which Joaquin’s and Claudio’s gangs selected their targets. Both gangs, especially Claudio’s gang, had a specific desirable victim profile, which mainly included Hispanic, Anglo and Oriental inhabitants.

As news about the discovery of gold in the state spreads, more and more people flock into the state. All counties within the state of California at the time became prime property, attracting miners from surrounding states and as a far as overseas. This opens up the state of California to numerous nationals, effectively making it a transnational space. Claudio undergoes through a number of changes that affect the manner in which he selects his victims. Initially, he did not touch fellow Hispanics and instead concentrated on Anglo and Oriental inhabitants. However, over time, he would not hesitate to kill a fellow Hispanic as he would a Chinese victim.

The gold rush attracted individuals from different cultures to the different counties of California. This depicted the entrance of new elements within the general culture within the state of California. Most of these individuals had come into the state of California seeking to find wealth and riches through the mining of Gold. As such, they were coming from a more destitute state into California with huge dreams and ambitions. However, the gold rush did not treat all parties involved in the same manner. Most of the individuals who could not make wealth resorted to taking by force. This depicts these bandits as social revolutionists (Brands). They sought to instigate change into a system that had failed, and even caused them harm. This social revolution was highly facilitated by the transnational nature of the state of California at the time.

This novel depicts elements discussed in Fredrick Jackson Turner’s seminal essay The Significance of the Frontier in American History. The frontier theory postulated that the American democracy was the result of the American Frontier. This frontier liberalized individuals by eroding the outdated dysfunctional norms and customs. The frontier particularly had no interest in violence. According to Turner, interaction at the foremost of the frontier is the most violent.

Works Cited

Adams, James T. The epic of America. Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1931. Print.

Brands, H W. The age of gold : the California Gold Rush and the new American dream. New York: Doubleday, 2002.

Hanson, Sandra L and John K White. The American Dream in the 21st Century. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2011. Internet Source.

Ridge, John R and Paul Reilly. The life and adventures of Joaquín Murieta, the celebrated California bandit. Grass Valley: Poitín Press, 2003.

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