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Introduction & Overview of The Indian Uprising

This Study Guide consists of approximately 39 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Indian Uprising.
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The Indian Uprising Summary & Study Guide Description

The Indian Uprising Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Bibliography on The Indian Uprising by Donald Barthelme.

In Donald Barthelme's short story "The Indian Uprising," the unnamed narrator tells of a battle between his troops and a group referred to as "the Comanches." Interspersed between scenes of battle and the torture of a captured Comanche are the narrator's memories of past events and people, conversations with his girlfriend, Sylvia, and sessions with a teacher named Miss R. Ultimately, the narrator's soldiers find themselves overrun by the enemy; the narrator has been betrayed by Sylvia and fooled by Miss R., both of whom reveal that they have sided with the Comanches. At the story's end, the narrator is taken prisoner and presented to a "Clemency Committee," thanks to Miss R., with the Comanches in attendance.

Some critics and scholars have considered Barthelme a writer of metafiction; that is, writing that draws attention to the fact that it is an artifact, not naturally occurring, in order to bring up questions about reality and its relation to fiction. Critics have also called Barthelme a writer of postmodern fiction, which is variously defined as fiction written by anyone after 1945, fiction that blurs the line between high and popular culture, or fiction that questions previous literary forms (the definitions of postmodernism are multiple and often contradictory).

In this story, as in most of his work, Barthleme experiments with word usage, syntax, narrative flow, and time to create a collage of images rather than a traditionally structured tale. Very little is revealed about the action's location or the characters' backgrounds, but the images Barthelme paints are rich with the curious detail of everyday material items and popular culture. Some critics have noted that the story, written in the 1960s, reflects the televised terrors of the Vietnam War and its protesters, as well as the historical violence of the American West. Others have focused on the story's warlike representation of male-female relationships.

"The Indian Uprising" was one of Barthelme's earliest stories, first published in the New Yorker. In 1968, Barthleme included it in his collection of stories, Unspeakable Practices, Unnatural Acts.

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