Karl May's Imaginary America

Somewhere along the way the paths of Winnetou and Old Shatterhand will cross and the two team up with their beloved band of Apache and White trappers to defeat the bad Guys and restore Justice to the Frontier.

There's plenty of violence committed by the Bad Guys. Winnetou's father and sister - Ntscho-tschi - are murdered by the arch villain of them all - Santer. Ntscho-tschi is the nearest that May gets to a love interest. She falls for Old Shatterhand. But he spurns her because he can only take a Christian for a wife.

Nto-tsche decides to go to finishing school in St. Louis but because she's murdered en route we never get to discover what Old Shatterhand would have done if confronted with a Christian Indian girl in buttons and bows. Sex and any female interest starts and ends right there.

Naturally, there's plenty of violence, but it's never gratuitous. Old Shatterhand will fight, and even kill, if necessary. But only when he's run out of all other options. He's a devout Christian, always ready to forgive, to turn the other cheek, to extend the hand of mercy. He's militant Christianity in buckskins.

Winnetou has many of the same virtues, but he's not a Christian and that's the essential difference. However much sympathy May has for Native American religion he's insistent on this one point, that Christianity, whatever the sins of its followers, is the answer. Christian values permeate the novels.


Karl May's Imaginary America

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The American West in the American Imagination

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