Shadow and Act Themes

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Frontier

In his introduction to Shadow and Act, Ellison asserts that as a Negro American born in Oklahoma in post-Civil War America, he is a "frontiersman." By Ellison's definition, the American frontier is the territory of the individual, the realm in which, like Twain's Huckleberry Finn, he is allowed to seek out his destiny, make rash, "quixotic gestures" and approach the world as full of possibility, unhampered by categorical limitations such as race. Ellison attributes this self-image to his childhood in a community rich in diverse cultural influences in a state unburdened by pre-Civil War affiliations of North or South. Throughout Shadow and Act, Ellison uses the image of the frontier as synonymous with or tied to ideas of invention, action, newness, cultural development, and the American ideal of democracy. At several points, for example, he identifies the frontier with passion for the outdoors as depicted in Hemingway's work...

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This section contains 1,722 words
(approx. 5 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Shadow and Act Study Guide
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Nonfiction Classics for Students
Shadow and Act from Nonfiction Classics for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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