Narrative of the Captivity of a Stereotype Privileged Person by a less-Privileged Person

And now I must part with what little company I had. I had parted with my BFF Tiffany (whom I never saw again till I saw her in Clovis, returned from juvenile), and from every other civil person who could afford decent highlights. Lord only knows what happened to her, sentenced to community service in Fresno with a fine. These people around me, I was nothing like them. I’d only tried to rip off a single Gucci bag from the mall. These thugs around me looked like they could beat me senseless. The animals they called guards are brutal. They’re so rude and they barely treat me like a human being. This was my second court date. I’d been in lock up due to the crowded detention centers for months. This cold, desolate place was hardly fit for someone of my stature and social standing. I’d only needed that purse because the woman at the counter had so unfairly denied my request for a discount. If she knew who I was, she would have begged for my business. In my time here, I didn’t cry a single tear. I watched as children were prodded around like cattle. Those “behavioural issues” these guards talked about were nothing but the true reactions of scared children. Most of them I’d seen grow up. The other inmates I saw had been mostly from the lower income side of Fresno. Not unlike the guards, those hooligans were animalistic themselves. Their smoke-leadened cries of desperation were pathetic. If it had been up to me, I would have sentenced them to the fullest form of punishment. Anything from shoplifting chips to armed robbery would have a life sentence from me. Anything to keep that riff-raff from growing into a full-blown criminal.

I don’t belong here. This cruel injustice, being mixed with people who couldn’t afford to breathe in the same school ground as I walk on from day to day, it is unacceptable. As soon as my parents return to the country, I will be released into their custody and they will find a way to fix all of this. No amount of therapy will ever be enough to cleanse the thoughts of these horrible people. How dare they silence me, an American citizen. I have god-given rights to this country. How could they lump me with the trash that pollutes our nation? My family has been on the top of many food chains for generations? Can half of the people in this hellish place claim that? I doubt half of them even speak the language, let alone possess the ability or knowledge to speak of their worth. Which, if I did say so myself, was not much. I felt pity for those who had potential to be greater simply based on their heritage. They wasted their potential. Now, like those people who lived from welfare check to welfare check, they rotted in here. All I could think of was how sweet it would be to be rid of myself from this awful place. I didn’t belong here. It was only a matter of time before they saw how unjust I was being treated. I was there for seven days.

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I chose to parody The Fourth Remove of Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mary Rowlandson by Mary Rowlandson. I thought it would be interesting to take a concept of someone who was dramatizing such a horrible experience but twist it to victimize herself completely. In this parody I greatly emphasized the nature of someone who was far more privileged than perhaps most of the people in my community as a whole or even the community (Clovis) that I chose reference. The satirical emphasis on the degradation of lower socioeconomic position was an aesthetic choice showing that even when the “victim” was clearly at fault, much like the settlers of Rowlandson’s time, they could still set themselves above the rest. Though I preserved the proper and “high-class” tone of Rowlandson’s piece, I chose not to choose religion as the narrator’s salvation but rather social class. I wanted to sneak in subtle hints of just how privileged this girl was, not just in wealth but in social aspects as well. Her parents are clearly wealthy, having been travelling outside of the country presumably for leisure or even business and foreign business trips are often the results of a high-paying career in general. I think most people agreed, within the class as well as amongst historical writers such as William Apess (who wrote his own parody piece), Rowlandson was making a very biased judgement of the natives of her time based on her religion and her race. Even though her people were technically the invaders of that land, they saw the property as their own and the inhabitants as pests and animals. I chose to parody this frame of mind by mimicking the animal analogies as well as casting a light on how she turned a merciful eye on those kids (presumably younger students) who were in the narrator’s social circle. I specifically made a casual mention of therapy in the narrator’s speech to further separate her from the other (minorities? Lower income kids?) inmates who no-doubt felt fear to some extent or even had no remorse but nonetheless would probably never have the opportunity to receive proper counseling.

-Asia Reyna

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Striking the Right Chords: Irish Harp

The Irish harp is a symbol of hope, strength, and good ol’ perseverance. To Thomas Moore, it stood for all of that and more. For centuries, the harp stood as a beacon and homage to a proud and independent people. Though it faced treacherous times and eras of doubt and waning appreciation, the Irish harp emerged victorious through history’s cruel evolution. Every line of Moore’s poem is dripping with an undying loyalty to the harp’s image of freedom and beauty. The fondness of his words bring up the memories of an instrument strung into history much like its own wired cords. The harp was Ireland’s ode to patriotism. It was a source of power and dignity, even in the darkest times when the tradition seemed to be lost.

Though the harp died out for some time in the 17th Century, its prestige returned with a bang. In the time of sorrow, Moore wrote:

Dear Harp of my Country! farewell to thy numbers

This sweet wreath of song is the last we shall twine,

Go, sleep with the sunshine of Fame on thy slumbers,

Till touch’d by some hand less unworthy than mine.

It was this sentiment that made the revival possible. The mid-late 19th century brought back the harp with a new sense of pride. The harpists, now fighting for tradition and life of the instrument as a whole, were self-taught and prepared to tackle the slim odds, even if their craft was a dying sentiment. Still, it is clear that much like Moore wrote about the gentry and unbound spirit of the harp, it is clear that it remains an icon and symbol for freedom to this day. This symbol of nationalism brought a spark of power and strength in the time of its prime and reignited a powerful source of nostalgia and tradition during its revival. Next to the humble potato, the harp icon is one of the most recognized symbols of Irish culture, represented in the fine arts and paintings and even as the logo for their signature beer.

-Asia Reyna

Merced, 2019

A parody of “London, 1802” by William Wordsworth

Students! thou shouldst be lit-eth at this hour:
the squad hath need of thee: she is turnt up
Of stagnant fields: livestock, orchards, and lack of financial aid,
countryside, the grand image of education and honor,
Have transformed from quaint and charming to endless squalor
Of inward suffering We are struggling fam;
Oh! raise it up, pour your espresso shots again;
And give us parties, fame, memes, selfies.
Thy soul was like a flame, and choked out by deadlines:
Thou heard a voice whose sound was okrrrt:
Dank as the naked heavens, majestic, Cardi B,
Thou did travel on life’s common way,
Toward educational delight; and yet thy squad
The lowliest moods on herself did feel.

Get that bread. Wipe your tears with your degree later.

-Asia Reyna

It’s a Mad World

In “The Mad Mother” by Wordsworth, the poem depicts a mother who is admittedly on the brink of insanity. Her only saving grace is the purity and love of her baby. Her husband is not attentive, if present at all, and she is considered mad by all those around her. The poem reads with a heavy air of isolation and depression, though every statement about her sun is like a little light of hope. Joseph William Turner’s “Buttermere Lake: A Shower” uses dark and muted colors for most of his painting. The dark theme is not eerie but rather dreary. There is a lone figure in the lake and in one of the further focal points of the piece, the artist utilizes light and depth with a soft arc ascending from around the lake’s bend. I think this painting is a good visual representation for the woman’s dark mentality. I would go as far as to say that the woman may have suffered mental illnesses in this piece. Depression, PTSD, or perhaps schizophrenia (when she speaks of the “wicked faces” and “fire once in [her] brain”) may be involved in her life.The way she speaks about how she was happy once, scorned at other times and has lost much joy by the time her son is born speaks volumes about potential depressive episodes she may have encountered through her life. The discord she suffers through is recurring, enough to have her labeled as mad and inconvenient enough to push others away. The romanticism, I think, is found in the way that this baby is enough to cease the madness, if only for a while. As mental illnesses are still not fully understood to this day, the era in which this was written would have been a strong romanticism thing. Clearly, she is an outcast but the romance theme of it all is strength in solitude, strength as a woman, and the love and emotions of a mother and her child.

-Asia Reyna

Iron Maiden’s Iron Mariner

-Asia Reyna

I’ve always said that music is like poetry. Both are fluid, taking on many forms and structures and both contain deviance from those forms. If beauty is in the eye of beholder, then the stanzas and lines could easily be taken as lyrics and beats. Iron Maiden’s rendition of the play shines a light on how music and poetry as separate arts can be united to create a neat marriage that may shine light on literature as a whole that the general audience may miss altogether. Imagery plays a lot into our other senses. While we can read poetry and read lyrics, a beat changes everything. That is why there are forms of poetry. The way words are arranged and sounded change everything about a play. Emphasis is a huge deal, just like the background music in a song is essential. Iron Maiden’s heavy metal genre is perfect to describe the longing of the mariner. In a way, heavy metal is the closest representation of romantic poetry we have in modern times as it is highly dramatic and created a stir among the ‘classy’ people of its beginning age. Romanticism as a whole was a huge leap among writers who wanted to express deep and varying emotions. Heavy metal is like that. Often seen as the rebel’s choice of genre, heavy metal has its fair share of meaningful songs that are presented in a loud and image-filled segment that you listen to in the same way that romantic poetry uses dramatic wording to project a powerful and strong mental image when you read it. Poetry and music share many common roots and structures. However, not all music is meaningful just as all poetry isn’t iconic. There will always be outliers but Iron Maiden’s piece is not one of them. Their music changed a somber and dreary poem into an epic journey. Coleridge provided a superb piece of poetry filled with heavy imagery. It was the perfect setup for heavy metal and its use of the same imagery techniques.

How do You do, Fellow Intellectuals?

“In short, he was like a father to me; and some even used to call me after his name; they also style me the black Christian.” (86)

Throughout his works, Equiano directly references the bible. It is very clear that he prides himself as being seen as a religious man, even in the beginning stages of his identity. Because at the time of this writing, Christianity defined a man’s worth and well-being, it was very important, especially for a black man, to become accepted by peers. The amount of English slave ownership no doubt influenced Equiano’s decision to pander to British crowds in order to bring his injustice to light. By showing that he is intelligent, well-written and a viable contributor to the human race in his own right, Equiano was able to reach otherwise unstoppable forces. The audience at the time, or rather the main influences of literature were English. The Europeans, especially, had the rather bad habit of thinking themselves greater than all others. Thanks to the delicate yet steadily inflating egos of English literates, it is easier for Equiano to persuade the domineering forces that slavery was a problem. Instead of rowdy protests, he simply demonstrates his intelligence, impressing many important figure to help raise an issue for his cause. Equiano’s writing is very similar to Pope’s satirical responses to bullying (which was a parody of this exact style of writing). While these other writers and poets criticized new and modern takes on literature, it was harder to explain how a man, especially a black man, could be treated so poorly without being discredited with whining or seen as self-victimizing. By using such clearly ineligible vocabulary and style, the work was comparable to a game show where people were forced to pick blindly on validity verses virtue. Equiano does a great job finding the balance of epic writing and hard-hitting, real, literature. While the book is riddled with side quests and unfortunate events, you can still clearly make out Equiano’s purpose of starting the end of the transatlantic slave trade.

-Asia Reyna

Well, Okay Then

-Asia Reyna

“ O! would the Sons of Men once think their Eyes

And Reason giv’n them but to study Flies!

See Nature in some partial narrow shape, [455]

And let the Author of the Whole escape:

Learn but to trifle; or, who most observe,

To wonder at their Maker, not to serve.”

I think that Image 3 “The Poetical Tom-Titt” could be poking at this particular segment, or similar ones to that. Where Pope criticizes religious men and pokes at the Sons of Men wasting their ability to think and ponder, could be a very jarring to men like Cibber or Warwick. The image dictates that Pope is not as righteous or enlightened as he claims to be. Pope is being dragged from the breast of a woman as if  He literally belittled Pope in this image by getting rid of his stature and calling out his manhood. It felt fitting because Warwick is using his eyes to watch through a cutout portrait as if he was a fly on the wall.

Pope’s style of writing in this particular book was an eloquent mock epic to give a fancy clapback to the people of England. Where Cibber was the face of the bullying, Pope chose to take the mocking in stride and elegance. In his writing, he merely continues to criticize his bullies with logic. He chose not to be affected by the mocking of his manhood or the slander of his name by suggestion prostitution. Instead, Pope became a very prolific face of satirical literature, demonstrating that his words were much more valuable than mediocre slander and caricature. He goes as far as to mention the dullness of literature as well, probably creating much more criticism post-Dunciad as Pope’s work was already a large target for slander. What Pope mentions and proves through the onslaught of literary bullying, is that people do not like seeing their own ugly reflection thrown back at them. By using such proper and fanciful techniques, Pope chooses the high brow-high ground technique to show people that he is a mature and trustworthy writer. He does not sink to the level of slander and immature tactic as the others, despite creating a mock epic as his revenge of choice.

“Okay, then” – Pope, probably, via 2019

The Big What-If

Swift’s take on captive narrative is a great answer to Rowlandson’s piece. When you think about how the six-inch-tall natives are the captors of the ‘giant’, it makes you think about the sheer outgunning of settlers and Native Americans. It was how Rowlandson’s people would have seen themselves. As the victims, even if they were clearly a larger fighting force. Where our hero, Gulliver, has a much better outcome in this satiric work, you can tell there are parallels. First of all, the use of ‘indigenous people’ and ‘natives’ stands out because it is repeated several times, much like the work of Rowlandson. This is done in a slightly different way and of less disgust but it stands out to parody Rowlandson’s captivity narrative. Ironically, one may expect the larger of the people to be the captors. This may reflect how the colonists viewed themselves compared to the Native people; as giants. I think an interesting trope that Swift decided to play on was the lack of poor treatment for the captive. Once Gulliver shows submission, they treat him well, even if he is their prisoner. The symbol, I believe, of the wine and meal is to show an almost biblical reference of breaking bread and drinking the blood of Christ. It is a sign of alliance and peace. If spun correctly, this passage, in isolation, can be seen as a ‘what-if’ to history. What if the colonists had not ruled by force and genocide? Something very interesting to note is the absence of the ‘savages’ trope. Gulliver’s captors are not rowdy, savage, wild people. Rather, they are mathematicians, mechanics, and brew wine, along with possessing a  formal army. Furthermore, he does not insult the people for their stature, which could be extended to their appearance. Unlike Rowlandson who condemns the native people for their appearance and differing culture, Gulliver focuses on the avoidance of criticizing and insulting the people of Lilliput.

-Asia Reyna

To: Mary Rowlandson (mrowson.bible@yahoo.com)

(Written by Asia Reyna)

Dear Mary Rowlandson,

I write to you not as a bargainer nor as a beggar but as a fellow Christian. The treatment you endured, dear woman, was unsavory–undeniably so, and you have every right as a human being to feel humiliated, fearful, and tormented beyond an average man’s threshold for the unpleasant. But ponder for a moment, if you will, the emotions you are feeling now and imagine the anguish these “creatures” must endure on a constant basis. Were not you uncertain of what each day would bring? What right be stripped away come sunrise until sunset? Mary Rowlandson, I ask you to reconsider the words the Evangelist Matthew says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth. But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well” (Matthew 5:38-40). The men you call savage, I ask you, Mary, what have they done to make you turn the other cheek? Their lands were ravaged, their women raped and livelihoods destroyed but for what cause? The men you criticize and rampage over, they have done nothing turn the other cheek to the settlers. Mary, take my words with ye own fair judgement but do not forget the mercies bestowed upon you. They may be unaware Mary, but the Indians you claim to hate, have grown closer to Christ than any God-fearing may hope to achieve. Despite their lack of education and Christian religious, it should be noted that they live by a very simple code of ethics to co-exist with one another. Your times were notably difficult Mary but do consider the courtesies extended to you, despite the treatment of their people. Focus not on the lack of Christ in these people but rather focus on becoming a humble and devoted woman of God, thus sharing the intentions of Jesus Christ and allowing them to see what is good.

Signed,

William Apess

Is This Really Tit for Tat?

Rowlandson’s narrative is a piece of literature that explores the intricacies of how racism is viewed, in a historical sense as well as a modern one as well. The author’s treatment of the natives confirms the ways people viewed the oppressed group while victimizing themselves. While the class was split fairly deep down the middle about whether or not to sympathize with the narrator, I stand by the fact that I do not fully belong on either side of the answer. While it is tragic that a mother lost her children, I do not think that she was in the right for her treatment of the “savages” in the first place. She consistently degrades them as human beings, despite the Puritans being the invading race in the first place. Despite the fact that the Algonquians treat her with at least some respect as a human (even as a hostage), she looks down on them as animals, barbarians, and compares them to creatures of Hell. Yes, she has been captured but her attitude and religious pride is what makes it very difficult to feel anything but contempt for Mary. Had Christians of that era been as Christ-like as they preach to be, the treatment of natives would never have been executed so poorly. Written from the point of view of a Puritan, Rowlandson’s narrative is easy to pick out as a racist and intolerable piece, but you can also see just how naive people were in those days. Her inability to see the indigenous people as people is extremely educational. The pride that this woman shows reflects the vile nature of people at that time and certainly demonstrates that even though there are people who wish to hide a hateful history, there are narratives like this that truly exhibit bigoted and idiotic thinking that is still, sadly, existent today in racial profiling.

-Asia Reyna