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American Tail Case

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Steven Spielberg's

An American Tail

1. In what year does the story take place? 1885

2. What country is Fieval Mouskawitz from? What religion is he?

Russia / Jewish

3. Who / what do the cats of each European nation represent? Who / what do they represent in America?

- Russia: Cossaks / Political Oppression / scapegoats for assassination of Czar

- Ireland: British gov't / Protestant landlords / famine

- Italy: local Mafia bosses / political corruption

- America: anti-immigrant prejudice / Nativism

4. What did the mice on the boat believe America would be like? What types of problems did they leave behind in their homelands?

"There are no cats in America & the streets are paved with cheese"... America is a land of plenty, there is no oppression / corruption / fear / poverty / hunger. Jewish people faced Pogroms in Russia / Ireland had the famine / Italy had the mafia / all faced political oppression and poverty on some level. This equates to propaganda spread throughout southern and eastern Europe at the time, depicting America as a promised land, where the streets are paved with gold, and there is no oppression. The propaganda was spread especially by businesses looking to entice cheap immigrant labor to fuel the Industrial Revolution.

5. How does Fieval become separated from his family?

His curiosity leads him to fall overboard from the ship during a terrible storm.

6. What nationality does Henri the Pigeon represent? How is his advice to Fieval in keeping with the symbolism of the Statue of Liberty?

Henri the Pigeon is French. We can tell from his accent. This is symbolic because the Statue of Liberty was a gift to the United States from France. His advice is "Never Say Never"... that America is a land of hope. If you work hard, and believe in yourself, you can accomplish anything. America is a land of opportunity for those who are willing to go for it. The Statue of Liberty symbolized this hope as well. When incoming immigrants saw her, saw the tribute to freedom and equality that welcomed them to a new land, they felt inspired and hopeful, and excited for a new beginning. In America, anything was possible.

7. Who is Warren T. Rat? Who does he represent?

Warren T. Rat represents the Americans who would exploit new immigrants for their own profit. He is like a Ward Boss... pretends to be one of them, to be protecting them, but really, he is just lining his own pockets. Fieval meets him at Castle Garden, the first immigration station on the east coast.

8. Who befriends Fieval and helps him escape the sweatshop?

At the sweatshop, Fieval meets Tony Spomoni, an Italian-American boy mouse. We can assume his parents probably immigrated from Italy, but he was born in America. He represents the children of immigrants who, though they are American, still have to endure the anti-immigrant prejudice. He also represents the continuation of immigrants



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