To be honest, I had to go back and read this piece of non-fiction, “Going Native”, by Francine Prose, a couple of times. I thought I was getting what she was trying to say the first time, but I decided the next morning that I must have missed an important message that she was trying to convey.
The author’s opening statement on this piece about the three fourth graders from a remote and poorest section of a rural school district in New York, was an interesting reflection on the common message that the author was trying to get across through-out the piece. The want -to-be syndrome of trying to be something that you’re not, rang clear with the situation of these boys. She stated that the boys wanted more than just a fashion statement and rap music, but the real feeling of being African American, rather than their fantasized ideas.
The author then went on through-out the essay to give examples of what going-native meant. I found it worthy of note about the mention of the Native American cartoon character that is depicted for the school logo and the football team. The topic of the Native American cartoon character was in the radio and news spot light not so long ago. The Redskin football team had suggested that they were thinking about changing their name so it would not offend American Indians. This was quite a topic of conversation around my house about the pros and cons of the possible change. My opinion about the change of name for the football team was embraced in our family. Our thoughts are that the name doesn’t degrade us, as being American Indian. We are who we are and a cartoon character does not define us as a person. The trinkets that are purchased at a flea markets, such as safety-pin beaded headdresses, that hang from the rear-view mirrors of cars or dream catchers that are made from manufactured, cookie stamped machines, do not define us, these are Material Things.
The catch phrase of Going-Native, we have all heard in conversation, either at home, on the television, the radio and movies. My impression on what Going-Native meant was letting loose, unattractive behavior, getting crazy. I’ve heard it used humorously, to go native means to take on some of the culture traits of the people around you.
I think what the author was trying to convey in this story, is that as a person we need to try to embrace who we are and what we are. Yes, we all take little snippets from our environment and weave them into our person. But we need to revel in the uniqueness of ourselves and try to not be assimilated into society, a cookie-cutter impression. Contribute to the society as a whole, but maintain the individualism that each of us has and pursue the purity and the simplicity of life.