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Between the good savage and the cannibal: representations of Amerindians in mid-20th century Brazilian children’s literature

Author(s): Iara Tatiana Bonin | Edgar Roberto Kirchof

Journal: Práxis Educativa
ISSN 1809-4031

Volume: 7;
Issue: Especial;
Start page: 221;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: Children's Literature | Representation of Brazilian Indians | Indianism. Cultural Studies

The representations of Brazilian Indians in Brazilian children fictional literature during 1945-1965, the third period in the history of Brazilian children's literature, are discussed. The corpus of current analysis consists of six novels, namely, As aventuras de Tibicuera, by Érico Veríssimo (1937); A bandeira das Esmeraldas (1945), by Viriato Corrêa; Expedição aos Martírios (1952) and Volta à Serra Misteriosa (1954), by Francisco Marins; Curumi, o menino selvagem (1956), by Jeronimo Monteiro; Curumim sem nome (1960), by Balthazar de Gadoy Moreira, in which the Indian is the hero or an important character. Results showed that Brazilian Indians were always represented as dichotomous subjects in the above books. On the one hand, Indians are described as “good savages”, frequently converted to the Christian faith, harmoniously integrated with nature, and a servant to white people. On the other hand, Indians are also portrayed as dangerous and violent cannibals, whose wild nature must be tamed. The main literary references to the construction of this dichotomy may be found by the authors of the period within the Brazilian literary canon written for adults.
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