THE SIXTH DAY

That Sunday they set ablaze the remnants of our camps, and loaded us up back into containers. All night the cries of women and children sounded, and the stench of bodily odors permeated the air. It was a cool night, and yet the sweat and tears that created a thing film of tackiness clung to our bodies. Still, it was a sort of reprieve; the two newborns that had been captured along with their mothers in the invasion did not shriek as hard as they did during the day. In the morning, however, the heat of the New Mexican sun exercised its ruthlessness. To make matters worse, the containers they held us in, fitted only with a single slit stretching horizontally along the container was our only window into the outside world when we traveled, as well as our only air source to cool us down. Packed with fifty to sixty per container in a container no bigger than school bus meant that we were already susceptible to overheating. The cruel sun only made things more unbearable. As I watched our camp become a fiery speck along the line of the desert, I thought of how on Sundays my mother and father would dress up a little tidier than usual, and ask me to wear a button up and some jeans. I’d come down the stairs, tired from being out with friends the night before and my mother would reprimand me for not combing my hair back. My father would grumble about something and we’d all hop in the car for church. I remembered how the preacher admonished about longing for sin after we’d come to God, and how Lot, stalwart and obedient, left his burning city behind with the faith God would lead him and his family towards something greater. But Lot’s wife, wistful and nostalgic, looked back at the burning city for one last final goodbye and was turned to a pillar of salt. Then the preacher would say something about the lustful nature of sin, and how we must stay faithful to God. My mother would amen, folding her hands and closing her eyes tightly as if she closed them tight enough God would see her faithfulness. I went along staring at that burning speck that was Los Lunas, leaving farther my own city, and waiting for the moment I too would turn into a pillar of salt. That night, they unloaded us again, one-by-one, into an open dirt clearing. A man behind me pushed through the line and sprinted out into the clearing. The day had exhausted him however, and he didn’t make it 200 feet before one of our captors seized him up and impaled him with its long, razor sharp arm. Our captors clicked in amusement and approval and continued the process of examining us one-by-one before pushing us towards the clearing to wait. Our captors were thick as the trees: it seemed as though they stood like monsters from a fairy tale book, and yet here they were, as palpable as the situation we were currently in.

Invaders. Invaders who had, up until a week prior had not even been within our line of sight. Invaders who had been lurking in the immensity of the black, waiting for the moment to strike us. I recalled the night they came: how my mother clutched her cross pendant and prayed zealously under her breath. How four days later she was still chanting prayers, hoping the words would ward them off, even as one pierced his arm through her breast. I gazed around at my fellow captives, wondering who amongst the bunch was still a fervent Christian soul. The emptiness in their eyes, the same emptiness that was mirrored in my own, revealed the truth.

 

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I choose to write my parody of Mary Rowlandson’s The History of the Captivity. I thought it might be interesting to do a parody written in sci-fi to highlight the foreign nature of Rowlandson’s captivity narrative. Since the Indians are a group of people that she has never experienced before, and their ways are foreign to her, I thought the way to best replicate this was to have my narrator also be seized by captors he was completely unfamiliar with as well. The concept for the most part is identical: both narrators are captured and use religion to navigate that captivity, and the continuum that the plot follows is admittedly the same. However, the details within the narrative are different. For example, it’s alien not Indians that attack; it’s a hot morning, not a cold one; my narrator is a boy, Rowlandson is a woman; my narrator is a Christian who has given up on God, Rowlandson is fervently Christian. These differences I believe, while subtle, change the tone of the story significantly. The sixth remove of Rowlandson’s captivity narrative, re-imagined through my creative project, ceases to be a story of hope and instead becomes a story of despair. I think this creative project aided me in significantly re-imagining the same experiences Rowlandson might have had but in the modern world. By creating a world that parodied that of Rowlandson’s by bringing it into 2017, where the threat of invasion is plausible of occurring, I was able to recreate some of the same feelings, while also manipulating my audience through a religious lens, as Rowlandson did. Overall, I believe that I learned a great deal about parodying others’ works. In addition to that, I got to exercise my creative gears, which we often don’t get to do in English class!

 

-Sara Nuila-Chae

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“If thy notes divine may be by mortal wakened once again, harp of my country, let me strike the strain”

The harp as a political symbol for Ireland was widely used to signify freedom and often depicted in the arms of an Irish woman. It was a symbol employed during English rule of Ireland, to express resistance to the British colonization of Ireland. To the people of Ireland, the harp was an instrument with deep connections to their Gaelic past, and with the ever-encroaching British culture invading their lifestyle, adherence to the significance of the harp was great. As we know however, Ireland was not the only colonized land by the British, India experienced the same occupation and unfortunately the same oppression that came with it. Henry Louis Vivian Derozio’s poem “The Harp of India” borrows the symbol of the harp from the Irish to combat the British, but also lament the loss of hope within India. Derozio’s Shakespearian sonnet concerns the dilapidated nature of the harp and how it has lost its sting: “Neglected, mute, and desolate art thou” (line 6). Derozio is aware of the history behind the harp, writing “O! many a hand more worthy far than mine/ Once thy harmonious chords to sweetness gave,/ And many a wreath for them did Fame entwine” (lines 8-10). Derozio is also hopeful for the return of the harp, zealously asserting in the heroic couplet of the poem “May be by mortal wakened once again,/ Harp of my country, let me strike the strain!” (line 13-14). Derozio’s poem extends the history of the harp, paying homage to the symbol, similar to Martin Luther King Jr. when he borrowed teachings from Gandhi to combat a similar foe (the white man). In this case the Irish and Indians are combating the same foe, the British, albeit at different points in history. What makes Derozio’s poem “The Harp of India” unique, rather than an empty usurpation of the harp symbol is its ability to mock the British while speaking of hope and freedom. As previously mentioned, Derozio’s poem is written as a Shakespearian sonnet, with a heroic couplet. Shakespearian sonnets are notoriously know for being on the subject of love; therefore making “The Harp of India” a love poem sighing over how magnificent the harp is. Derozio praises the Irish for creating the symbol, writing of its “music once was sweet” (line 3), “harmonious chords” (line 9), and “notes divine” (line 12). In addition to allowing the external form to reflect the content of the poem, he mocks the British with the external form of the poem. The Shakespearian sonnet is the epitome of English culture and eulogizes a particularly romanticized period in British history. In laymen’s terms, the Shakespearian sonnet is to the British as the harp is to the Irish. With the appropriation of the Shakespearian sonnet by Derozio, he mocks the British by using their external poetry form to write of an awakening and a call for retribution by the harp: “Harp of my country, let me strike the strain!” (line 14). Derozio’s “The Harp of India” effectively borrows from the Irish to taunt the return of the harp, or the return of hope and retribution.

 

-Sara Nuila-Chae

Santa Barbara, 2017

The city I choose to write about was Santa Barbara, my hometown. I remember a romanticized version of the place I grew up: one that was clean and quiet. Every time I go back I am always disillusioned because it seems like there’s always a new building up, the streets are dirtier and more crowded. I would just like to preface with I am terrible at writing poems, but I did my best to stick to Wordsworth’s “London, 1802” Petrarchan sonnet form. It’s not iambic pentameter, so I apologize in advance.

 

I once knew a harbor: humble, quiet and blue;

Where the sun’s celestial rays shone on

Clean streets, palm trees, the freshly cut green lawn;

State street and the beach were pristine and new

One could roam about downtown with the crew

And see familiar faces, a neighbor

Oh! raise us up, return to us once more;

Give us that once beautiful haven too

Too littered is the ground I now walk upon

Stoges and cracked bottles scatter on the street

Sinful heathens who gnaw my town like meat

They steal its beauty, not caring it’s wrong.

This evil plague is something we must beat.

 

-Sara Nuila-Chae

Observing Color in “The Abby in the Oakwood”

The painting entitled “The Abby in the Oakwood” by Caspar David Friedrich can be interpreted through the lens of William Wordsworth’s romantic poem “We Are Seven”. Wordsworth’s ballad “We Are Seven” can roughly summarized as a poem about a man inquiring about a little girl’s dead siblings. The speaker asks the child “Sisters and brothers, little Maid/ How many may you be?” (line 13-4), to which the child replies, “How many? Seven in all” (line 15). Initially this does not appear to be unsettling until the child reveals that “two are in the church-yard laid, / Beneath the church-yard tree” (line 31-2). Although the speaker attempts to correct the child by telling her that then there are only seven, she insists that “Nay, we are seven!” (line 69).

This is perhaps one of the most harrowing facets of the ballad: its quality of contrasting life and death; the child in the poem innocently insists that her siblings are still alive, while additionally revealing that they are dead. This is what gives the poem its chilling mood; the child (life), juxtaposed with her dead siblings (death). When viewing Friedrich’s painting, readers can recognize the same types of romantic themes, ideas, and feelings deployed in Wordsworth’s poem.

The theme of death is stark in Friedrich’s painting. The scene is of an abbey in the wood, with what appears to be a cemetery. The top of the painting is set in the light while a line cuts across the center of the painting in which the bottom half is dark. This obvious contrast of colors mirrors the theme of the poem (life and death). This theme is further perpetuated by the content of the painting in which an abbey window is set in the light, while the cemetery is shrouded within the darkness. The church scene, which is obvious metonym for the revival or life, and the cemetery, a metonym for death mimics the romantic theme of life and death evoked in Wordsworth’s poem, but also the unsettling mood that accompanies it. Readers of Wordsworth’s poem can view Friedrich’s painting through the same lens and can conversely recognize the obvious similarities.

 

-Sara Nuila-Chae

Iron Maiden’s Rendition of “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Ignoring the obvious discrepancies Iron Maiden’s heavy metal rendition of the song “The Rime of the Ancient by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (e.g. its ignorance of meter and interest in a rhyme scheme), the heavy metal song pays homage to the Coleridge poem adequately. Although Coleridge’s poem featured the rhyme meter of a traditional ballad (iambic trimeter);

[insert blockquote of the the first line of ]

Iron Maiden did not. However, this was not the only facet of what classifies as a romantic poem. If a romantic poem is one in which the senses are evoked in such a powerful (consider synesthesia) way (as our consensus in class), Iron Maiden’s song does justice, or at the very least, accomplishes this. Although Iron Maiden changes the lyrics to an extend (it serves as an abridgment to the poem)

  • visual imagery
  • synthesia
  • poetic tune and how it influences the tone

***still trying to gather my thoughts and put them to words***

 

-Sara Nuila-Chae

Equiano’s Internalization and his Subsequent Qualification of Bull’s Satricial Cartoon

What makes Olaudah Equiano’s slave narrative particularly interesting is its seemingly docile approach to slavery. Multiple times throughout the text, Equiano excuses the actions of his colonizers, internalizing many of their beliefs, and at times supporting the very actions he condemns. For this reason, readers witness a sort of role-reversal, with Equiano adapting into an Englishman, at times condoning colonization and slavery, while still remaining abolitionist. Equiano’s narrative harkens back to the problem with internalization; his narrative cannot be fully abolitionist due to his defense of his English countrymen. On multiple accounts, Equiano sheds light on the abuse he encounters with the English: he recalls how they frequently physically attacked him, and psychologically tortured him by withholding food from him and telling him that they would kill him. Perhaps in viewing John Bulls’ satirical cartoon in knowledge of Equiano’s narrative one could easily refute its claims, however this is not the case. If anything, Equiano’s narrative complicates the validity of the cartoon.

Bulls’ satirical cartoon is anti-abolitionist, serving as a rebuttal to abolitionist claims about the barbarity of slavery while also bringing in conversation about socio-economic problems. In the cartoon, Bull accuses abolitionists of manipulating the economy by advocating for East India Sugar companies, which at the time did not support slavery. In the cartoon, children sign a petition to seemingly prohibit slavery, while others look through a telescope lens at Africa, only to be blocked by nefarious pictures of “negro slavery”. Bull in doing this satirizes abolitionist claims, making a bold statement that abolitionists’ work is simply a plot to damage West India’s influx of support. Equiano’s narrative does little to combat Bull. Though he castigates the harshness of the English, he knowingly participates in slavery: he subjugates Indians using techniques he garnered from reading Columbus, and he even aids his slave master in choosing slaves being sold at an auction. Equiano even approvingly mentions in the beginning pages of his narrative that “[t]he West India planters prefer the slaves of Benin or Eboe to those of any other part of Guinea, for their hardiness, intelligence, integrity, and zeal. Those benefits are felt by us in the general healthiness of the people, and in their vigour and activity; I might have added too in their comeliness”. Equiano attributes the success of the West India companies use of slaves, which complicates the abolitionist narrative. In addition to this, Equiano trivializes his own suffering, remarking in his first chapter “I might say my sufferings were great: but when I compare my lot with that of most of my countrymen, I regard myself as a particular favourite of Heaven, and acknowledge the mercies of Providence in every occurrence of my life”. He remarks how not all Englishmen treated him with cruelty and distain, but that several of them touched his life in positive ways (e.g. his “little friend Dick”). Perhaps this is where Equiano’s narrative complicates the slavery narrative; he ceases to serve as abolitionist propaganda and instead serves the opposite. For these reasons, I would argue that Equiano’s narrative qualifies a good portion of Bull’s claims.

– Sara Nuila-Chae

Language as the Mediator of Knowledge

With the introduction of Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary in 1755, came a heightened sense of preserving the English language. The original intent, as manifested in Johnson’s Preface to the English Dictionary, reveals that Johnson himself was vexed with the idea of capturing and defining all the English words circulating during that time in order to provide the English people with a point of reference for their language. Johnson endeavored nine years to provide the English people with a lexicon, and as a plea for his work to be the end-all-be-all, he urged the public to put an end to the formation of new words writing: “those who have been persuaded to think well of my design, require that it should fix our language, and put a stop to those alterations which time and chance have hitherto been suffered to make in it without opposition” (Johnson 84). Johnson and like-minded lexicographers attempted a fruitlessly to wrangle the English language and cement it from ever evolving further.

The source, Johnson alleges, of the language’s pollution (the reason why it keeps changing) lies in the introduction of new speakers. He cites one of the key contaminators of the English language those that are strangers of it. Commerce, he argues is the mediator of such contamination:

“Commerce, however necessary, however lucrative, as it depraves the manners, corrupts the language; they that have frequent intercourse with strangers, to whom they endeavour to accommodate themselves, must in time learn a mingled dialect, like the jargon which serves the traffickers on Mediterranean and Indian coasts” (Johnson 86).

But Johnson articulated that such variegation of the English language would not happen immediately, seeing as

“Total and sudden transformations of a language seldom happen; conquests and migrations are now very rare: but there are other causes of change, which, though slow in their operation, and invisible in their progress, are perhaps as much superiour to human resistance, as the revolutions of the sky, or intumescence of the tide” (Johnson 86).

What Johnson could not foresee was the British colonization of India and their subsequent integration into the education (or lack of) of Indian studies. With the dissemination of the English language into India, theoretically, left unmitigated, new words should have been sprouting up. But the British woefully and thoughtfully mediated Indian education by denying them access to the English language. Rammohun Roy, in his letter to Lord Amherst, wrote of the disillusion he experienced when he had hoped the British would expand their knowledge, but instead perpetrated the same knowledge they had been aware of for years:

“While we looked forward with pleasing hope to the dawn of knowledge thus promised to the rising generation, our hearts were filled with mingled feelings of delight and gratitude; we already offered up thanks to Providence for inspiring the most generous and enlightened of the Nations of the West with the glorious ambitions of planting in Asia the Arts and Sciences of modern Europe. We now find that the Government are establishing a Sangscrit school…[where] the pupils will there acquire what was known two thousand years ago, with the addition of vain and empty subtleties…” (Roy 144).

What is perhaps the most interesting part of this narrative of the English language, is that the British, in attempting to purify the language and set it apart from the contaminating mouths of foreigners, were also abetting the repression of knowledge, seeing as “intellectual improvement of those classes of the people who have the means of pursuing higher studies can at present be affected only by means of some language not vernacular amongst them” (Macaulay 8). Thomas Macaulay, in his letter, calls language not only the means by which the Indians can reach a higher intellect, but the means by which they too can operate on the same civilized platform as the British, considering “The languages of western Europe civilized Russia. I cannot doubt that they will do for the Hindoo what they have done for the Tartar” (Macaulay 16). If we take away Macaulay intrinsic superiority over the Indians, which Macaulay self-professes if I might add (“The intrinsic superiority of the Western literature is indeed fully admitted by those members of the committee who support the oriental plan of education” (Macaulay 10)), what we are left with is a genuine argument that the dissemination of knowledge begins with the dissemination of language.

This is perhaps the most dangerous part of integrating language—the presupposition that one language or one race carries more knowledge than the other—into a country regardless of whether or not it is being colonized. It’s colonization status if anything only heightens the danger, conjuring feels of elitism and perpetrating the racist idea of taming the East. It is only with the willing submission of and the equal sharing of both languages can the dissemination of language and therefore the dissemination of knowledge escape the clutches of racism. But we all know how that turned out, didn’t we?

-Sara Nuila-Chae

The Enlightenment as Satirized through the Houyhnhnms

Jonathan Swift’s satirical use of the Houyhnhnms, a superior race to that of the Yahoos (including Gulliver himself), allows Swift to create a conversation about the overwhelmingly positive effects of the Enlightenment, but also its negative effects. Gulliver explains in Chapter 6 of Part IV, that life with the Houyhnhnms is everything he could have dreamed of; he enjoys there “perfect Health of Body and Tranquility of Mind” (254) and is not subject to the temptations of “Treachery or Inconstancy of a Friend, nor the Injuries of a secret or open Enemy” (254). All of the degenerate, problematic, deceiving sinners and the things that bring with it misfortune that are common in Gulliver’s home country, were absent in the land of Houyhnhnms:

here were no gibers, censurers, backbiters, pickpockets, highwaymen, housebreakers, attorneys, bawds, buffoons, gamesters, politicians, wits, splenetics, tedious talkers, controvertists, ravishers, murderers, robbers, virtuosos; no leaders, or followers, of party and faction; no encouragers to vice, by seducement or examples; no dungeon, axes, gibbets, whipping-posts, or pillories; no cheating shopkeepers or mechanics; no pride, vanity, or affectation; no fops, bullies, drunkards, strolling whores, or poxes; no ranting, lewd, expensive wives; no stupid, proud pedants; no importunate, overbearing, quarrelsome, noisy, roaring, empty, conceited, swearing companions; no scoundrels raised from the dust upon the merit of their vices, or nobility thrown into it on account of their virtues; no lords, fiddlers, judges, or dancing-masters (254).

The country of the Houyhnhnms is vastly superior, based primarily on the fact that the Houyhnhnms have effectively eradicated all those disagreeable, their traits, and their vices. Gulliver mentions several times throughout this Chapter about how the Houyhnhnms have a vastly superior intellect and way of running things than Gulliver’s own country. It is for this reason that he submits himself to the Houyhnhnms, referring to them as his master, and obeying them as if a slave: “I never presumed to speak, except in answer to a Question, and then I did it with inward Regret, because it was a Loss of so much Time for improving myself” (254). What is interesting about this submission is that Gulliver happily allows himself to be subjected to the critique of his superior. When Gulliver’s master gives his discourse on the topic of a being’s rationality, Gulliver falls to his feet, completely vexed and praiseworthy of the discourse. However, his master, seeing Gulliver on the floor, reaffirms this notion that Gulliver, in the eyes of the Houyhnhnms, can easily be manipulated with a call to Reason, since “a Rational Creature can be… only advised, or exhorted, because no Person can disobey Reason, without giving up his Claim to be a Rational Creature” (257).

This directly correlates to the Enlightenment, which would have been happening around Swift’s time. Swift’s mockery of the Enlightenment, done with the use of the Houyhnhnms (the Houyhnhnms representing those philosophers of the Enlightenment), creates an interesting dialogue about the ramifications of the Enlightenment. On one hand, humankind would be happier if they could think and behaved as the Houyhnhnms do, however, as the reader realizes, on the other hand, they become slaves to discourse and philosophy (“Loss of so much Time for improving myself”), unconcerned with the human emotion (like Gulliver displays when he falls to his master’s feet and the master is unimpressed).

-Sara Nuila-Chae

Getting the gist of the phrase “city upon a hill”

If we trace the origins of the phrase “city upon a hill” which was taken from Matthew chapter 5 of the Bible, the connotations are made pretty evident. Jesus, the speaker, is encouraging Christians to becoming a shining example of holiness; to practice all of the admirable qualities the “blessed” have (Matthew 5:3-11). Just as a city upon a hill cannot hide, Jesus asks that Christians therefore “in the same way, let your light shine before others that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16). This request isn’t meant to be one that asks Christians to boast about their good works, in fact in the very next chapter of Matthew, Jesus admonishes: “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven” (Matthew 6:1). The city upon a hill, in this sense, is then meant to serve as a “beacon”, and a Christian is not necessarily meant to be a flashy, pompadour, and self-righteous individual, but one that is a role model for goodness and holiness. Obviously we can’t ignore the denotative qualities of the phase “city upon a hill”. A city is a group of individuals coming under one nation; similarly, Christians recognize themselves as the people of God, and so there is a sense of nationality amongst the group. Of course, I believe that this second connotation that we may have derived from the phrase takes second chair. I say this primarily because how the metaphor was wedged in between two other metaphors (the salt and light, the candle and bowl) that were all essentially conveying the same message. This message, as we know, was summarized in Matthew 5:16.

After acknowledging that “city upon a hill” has two meanings, the latter not so important, it’s interesting that Winthrop chose to use the phrase. This isn’t to say that John Winthrop was hijacking the phrase and using it out context, only that he wasn’t using the primary metaphor. If we can recall, John Winthrop in his sermon, A Model of Christian Charity, uses “city upon a hill” to describe the colony being established in America. He asks his followers to obey certain cardinal values, for example “Justice and Mercy” (34), and treat others the way you want to be treated (35). The motive behind this sermon, is to encourage the people to work together, so that England can see that they are doing just fine on their own: “For wee must consider that wee shall be as a citty upon a hill. The eies of all people are upon” (47). Winthrop’s sermon is optimistic, it encourages the people that they too can be a beacon of hope to other pilgrims, provided that they follow a certain set of ideals and more importantly, get along with each other (which ties in the nationality part).

In regards to modern usage of the phrase, if we can successfully separate the fact that John Winthrop was a fervent Christian, knowingly using the phrase with religious connotations, but moreover to encourage a pride of nationality, we can see that modern usage doesn’t do justice to Winthrop’s meaning and definitely not Jesus’. Winthrop, like Jesus was arguing for sense of morality, a goodness that could bring the people together and serve as a beacon, Regan on the other hand, focuses on the city aspect of the phrase. He remarks that we’re different, coming together under the same nation, but that we are a melting pot who is open to everyone. In the speech, he makes it clear that America is a beacon of freedom and that is the only attribute, not that it’s just or that its good or that it’s moral, as Jesus and Winthrop alluded to. Similarly, Obama’s farewell speech took on the same verbiage that America was a beacon of freedom, a melting pot, etc. which changes the original meaning significantly, but not exceptionally. Obviously secular people may disagree, arguing that they’re essentially equal to each other, but as a Christian myself I can see the ways the Word of God has been augmented to fulfill a separate agenda, in the case of Regan and Obama, almost completely. Of course, there are parallels, the ones I have aforementioned, and so I can definitely see the similarities though they are broad.

 

-Sara Nuila-Chae