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Is Texas Contagious?

After reading Olmsted’s opinion on how Texas seemed to change people into lazies and regular Texans, I began to wonder if he was right. Does Texas transform people? Is the culture and way of life contagious? The story about the Irish woman in the text really struck me because it showed how someone’s opinions and ideas can change when they shift geographical locations. A once abolotionist woman “had to change her views on arriving in Texas” and was suddenly owning and whipping slaves (249). I suppose this could be a situation of “desperate times call for desperate measures” but I think that if she strongly held these views, she wouldn’t have taken to the Texas lifestyle so quickly. The Germans were a fine example of how Texas didn’t seem to change their lifestyles at all. So what was it about Texas that made people conform to the lazy lifestyle Olmsted described? I think even today Texan’s boast that we live a different lifestyle from the rest of America. It goes back to how we differentiate ourselves from the South, even though people from other states may not. I think Texas is all about independence and not wanting to conform, so it’s really interesting that Olmsted believed coming to Texas would make people conform.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. February 8, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    I agree with you, this “transformative power” is of particular interest. However, I would hazard to guess that the Texas social/cultural landscape could only so dramatically change someone if they are in the shit alone; the Germans were an entire community helping each other and reinforcing a certain way of life whereas the Irish woman may not have been surrounded by other abolitionists or hard workers, and may have even faced a fair amount of racism against herself, which would lend slavery as a particularly “easy” means of assimilating, asserting power, and fitting in — almost like a survival method.

    What do you think?

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