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Learning From Mistakes


Learning From Mistakes


The constant learning that occurs in the everyday lives of humans can often be applied to many aspects in life. This proves true in Patricia Limerick’s essay, “Haunted America.” Inside Limerick’s essay she explains how we should learn a great deal from war, how we learn from others and our own mistakes. When thinking about her title, “Haunted America”, the first thing that comes to mind is war and people dying. As Limerick says, “We live on haunted land, on land that is layers deep in human passion and memory” (503). This quote says that the people who fought at war and died had great consequences that united our nation and we will remember that.

Although Americans have often viewed our nation as being free from tradition and on the cutting edge of progress, the past nevertheless shadows our nation and its peoples. Although many wars have taken place with Americans, we some times seem to forget about those who we fought with to gain land. Like the Indians, we still today don’t really recognize them for who they are, we just seem to shove them to the side and forget about them. Today in time you never hear about the Indians accomplishments, it seems as if we just take their land over and never talk about them again. From knowing the real facts on war against the natives, it helps us learn not what to do next time. In Limerick’s essay she has a twelve point guide to war, that has many important issues at stake. In these patterns it teaches us what not to do next time, but they will always be there and remind us what did happen. For instance, like in any class, such as English we might not do something right the first time, but after a while we catch on and begin to do whats right, we learn from our own mistakes. As Limerick says, “a whole range of people who see each other as alien and who feel that they have no common ground, benefit from the tragic events of conquest” (503). In life today if no tragedies would have happened we would not really know why anyone was sharing the same ground.



Many people have many different ideas and opinions on history about what it really is or was. But, those opinions and ideas will always be remembered of what happened in our past. After reading limerick and Tompkins’s essay, they have different perspectives on our history. In Tompkins’s essay, she tries to connect all the themes or opinions she had and makes her own analysis about history where as Limerick exaggerates on her knowledge more than Tompkins did. In Limerick’s essay she explains that our nation’s history is a part of our present day lives. Limerick points out that we don’t need to know the little facts about the “white-Indian wars”, we need to know the big facts to resolve anything. Limerick explains this as she quotes,

They are tales from hell because they are stories so loaded with tiresome detail and pointless plot twists that narrative art bends and breaks under their weight. They are tales from hell, as well, because they are stories that drive their tellers and readers to a confrontation with the darkest and grimmest dimensions of human nature. (472)

From Limerick’s quote she is explaining how readers don’t get the real fact about history if they only know the little facts; they need to get the real facts to learn what is really going on. Like today in our lives, war with Iraq, it makes a person really realize if us Americans know the whole picture of what is behind it all.

As pulling out the details in Limerick’s essay, I begin to feel that the title “Haunted America” is much more than war and people dying. I feel that Limerick might be explaining that the past will never go away, we are haunted by it. We will always remember what happened in our history and why we are here today.




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