D.H. Lawrence writes on the American soul as epitomized in the works of James Fenimore Cooper:
The slow forming of the new skin underneath is the slow sloughing of the old skin. And sometimes this immortal serpent feels very happy, feeling a new golden glow of a strangely patterned skin envelop him: and sometimes he feels very sick, as if his very entrails were being torn out of him, as he wrenches once more at his old skin, to get out of it.
Out! Out! he cries, in all kinds of euphemisms.
He’s got to have his new skin on him before ever he can get out.
And he’s got to get out before his new skin can ever be his own skin.
So there he is, a torn divided monster.
The true American, who writhes and writhes like a snake that is long in the sloughing.
Sometimes snakes can’t slough. They can’t burst their old skins. Then they go sick and die inside the old skin, and nobody every sees the new pattern.
It needs a real desperate recklessness to burst your old skin at last. You simply don’t care what happens to you, if you rip yourself in two, so long as you do get out.
It also needs a real belief in the new skin. Otherwise you are likely never to make the effort. Then you gradually sicken and go rotten and die in the old skin.
…you have the the myth of the essential white America. All the other stuff, the love, the democracy, the floundering into lust, is a sort of by-play. The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer. It has never yet melted.