John Smith, Discussion Questions

English 6110: Seminar in American Literature I
Dr. Patrick Erben
Reading and Discussion Questions
John Smith from Generall Historie of Virginia
i. How does John Smith fashion himself into a hero? What kind of a hero?
ii. Which myths of the discovery, exploration, and settlement of America
does his captivity narrative affirm, which does it debunk?
iii. Analyze the period of his captivity! What literary genre does this remind
you of? What is the relationship between events, telling, and readers?
What is the purpose of the account?
iv. What role does Pocahontas play in Smith’s narrative? Why does he need
Pocahontas in this narrative?
v. What kind of a fantasy does Smith create here? Especially, what
archetypal fairy tale roles does he create or reflect? Why or how would
this appeal to readers in Europe, and what does it say about the newly
discovered America?
vi. Why/in how far did the John Smith-Pocahontas story become one of the
central founding myths in American culture?