Structural Functionalist Themes in “Black Elk Speaks”
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This is a 5 page paper discussing structural functionalism in relation to themes presented in “Black Elk Speaks”. “Black Elk Speaks” as told through John G. Neihardt portrays several social and religious aspects of the Sioux while they are faced with their own destruction by the invasion of the white men. Black Elk, a holy man, provides commentary on the structure of the individuals within his own tribe through a vision he has which includes himself, all the levels in his tribe, all the men, women, children, warriors and the spirits of their ancestors. This vision and faith in their structure allows Black Elk and his tribe hope in their negotiations with the intrusion of the white man. Structural functionalism also deals with the evolution of social and religious forces which shape social and religious roles within a community and the slow religious transition and inclusion of the Catholic Mission into the lives of the Sioux allows for Black Elk as a religious leader to promote the cohesiveness of his tribe while remaining within the restrictive new laws of the country.
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