By: Katherine Hernandez
There is a theme of whitewashing American history at the expense of the ego of eurocentric powers, and this is especially true when it comes to literature that is presented to society. And unfortunately, the whitewashing of historical events has led to the erasure of the struggles minorities face at the expense of colonization in North America. Topics of genocides and sexism are still prevalent in our society today, and this is due to the silencing of so many voices that occurred during the gentrification that took place in America.
The stereotype of indigenous people being barbarians comes to life in Mary Rowlandson’s narrative. A nation full of genocide towards indigenous people suddenly becomes the victim of its own atrocities when there is pillaging of a white community by indigenous people. Suddenly the acts of killing people for simply being is seen as an inhumane act of greatest proportions. And while it isn’t hard to sympathize with Mary and the circumstances she finds herself in, it is very hard to maintain that empathy for her when looking at things from an outside perspective. Mary faced hardships, that is true, with the death of her child, at the mercy of indigenous people, as a human with the capability to empathize with her, one very much does so. Mary is a mother and it isn’t very hard to feel the grief and strife she faces during those 11 weeks of the narrative she shares with us, however in a much larger perspective, does that mean that the genocides that are happening in America are only important when white people begin to face them? There is a double standard at play, in which the death of so many indigenous people is not taken into account.
There is again a theme of romanticism that envelops the story Mary shares with us; the pain and grief she goes through are not real until it solely happens to her. It is as if the eurocentric mindset does not permit the suffrages of minorities and instead paints them out to be less than of others (others being Europeans) The intolerance towards the indigenous people dehumanizes them and Mary’s narrative only pushes that vendetta further. Much like Dryden’s play The Indian Emperor, the identity of these indigenous people has stripped away and their sole purpose seems to revolve around the colonizers. Their stories are lost midst the eurocentric romanticism that is displayed. It is not just a genocide of indigenous groups, it’s genocide of their existence. Their voices are not given a platform thus muting out struggles during the era of colonization in America.