A Narrative of the Captivity and Eventual Success of Mrs. Charise Cating

An imitation of Mary Rowlandson’s “A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson” from the Introduction and The First Remove:

It is always a sad sight to see so many students being robbed of their money by a school, some here, and some there, idling by like a group of gullible sheep, all of them stripped to nothingness by a university filled with greedy presidents, deans, chancellors and parking staff, as if they were happy to see us suffer; yet God gave us the strength we needed to survive being brain dead, for there were thousands of us mistreated by the university, but alas, happily graduated.

I used to say that if I ever began to love school, I would rather choose to die than be alive, but when the mere thought came alive my mind changed; the crisp diploma turned me on so, that I chose to follow the teachings of my (so called) professors, than that moment to die; and that is why I am alive today so that I may tell you all about my captivity in school, I will specifically talk about the several downfalls I had up and down the academic route.

Now away my group and I went with these ridiculous campus tour guides, with our minds tired and fried, and our hearts lighter than our minds. We walked about a mile, up upon a bridge within sight of nowhere, where they intended to blast our brains with information. There were empty tables by a library building (deserted by students, for fear of the Financial Aid Office). I asked them if I could stop by, to which they answered, “What, do you like having your money stolen?” This was the hardest day I ever experienced. Oh the yelling, and cheering and exclaiming, and smiling of those awful tour guides haunted me at night, which made the school a living hell. And as miserable as the waste that was there- empty land, small classrooms, insufficient dorm rooms, expensive but rather bland food, and unfair transportation and parking service (TAPS) staff, some boasting about, some ticketing away to feed our greedy university; which is quite expensive enough, though we were unhappy. To add on more to yesterday’s terrible day, and the disappointment of the night, my mind raced through my loss of money and my depressing condition. All was gone, my money gone, my motivation gone, my hobbies and freedom gone, my hometown and childhood home and my comfortable bed- all was gone (except my life), and I knew that my life could easily be taken too. There was nothing left in me but a depressed soul, and my sadness at the time seemed worse than dying because I was in such a terrible state, that I had no motivation to pick myself up and keep going.

Review of the Imitation:

Cating’s imitation of Rowlandson’s work in order to ridicule the university system is quite amusing. Her frustration about the costs of school and the burden on students is clear in her tone and her choice to imitate Rowlandson’s condescending paragraphs about the Indians in order to describe her anger at the university system makes her message clear. Are students so affected by the costs of tuition, books, school supplies, parking services, and other educational related expenses that they feel “stripped to nothingness”? Not only that, but Cating also emphasized the depression she felt and the loss of motivation because of the expenses. Fortunately, she was kind enough to start her imitation off with the news that she will be graduating before she wrote about her perilous academic journey.

We must also consider that Cating did try her best to imitate Rowlandson’s overall tone, which I think was spot on. Rowlandson’s tone in the First Remove was egotistical- she was quite clear that she (and her fellow Puritans) were better than the Indians. However, Cating did the opposite in which the university and those part of the university system were better than the her and her fellow undergraduates.

Another difference between Cating and Rowlandson’s work is that Rowlandson’s First Remove was her own personal experience and Cating made sure to keep that important element by including her own experiences with the university system as well. However, she makes it relatable by including other problems that other students encounter, such as “insufficient dorm rooms” or “expensive but rather bland food.” In this way, Cating is interacting with her audience and not only focusing on what she herself has experienced, but she is also including the hardships of others as well.

With this information, we must think about the problems of students beyond their homework and studying. How are they paying for their tuition? Are they being forced to take out thousands of student loans? Are they having to work full time on top of trying to lead an academic life? How is their mental and physical health being affected? There are many fortunes to earning a degree, but it is important to acknowledge the reality that students are facing depression, anxiety, and financial issues among other things at such a young age.

Charise Cating

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A Useless Harp

The Irish harp became a symbol of resistance against British rule. Henry Derozio’s “The Harp of India” is a poem about the loss of India’s independence and his hope that India will regain its power. In line 3, Derozio’s poem reads “Thy music once was sweet — who hears it now?”
The music that the harp once played was music to one’s ears, but now that India is under British rule, the harp’s music is no longer the same. Derozio continues the poem with “Neglected, mute, and desolate art thou, Like ruined monument on desert plain” (Lines 6-7). He claims that the harp is destroyed, therefore it has become useless. By this, he means that the British has no respect for nor does it care for India.
In the second part of the poem, Derozio becomes more hopeful. He begins by saying “O! many a hand more worthy far than mine, Once thy harmonious chords to sweetness gave” (Lines 8-9). Here, Derozio claims that past poets were more talented than him and that their works continue to be admired especially in this hard time- India under British rule.
Derozio’s poem extends the history between Britain and India by capturing the moment in a poem and lamenting about the tragedy of it. However, his hopefulness at the end of the poem suggests that he believes that India will gain its freedom.

Charise Cating

UC Merced in 2019

A recreation of Percy Shelley’s “England in 1819”

A new, unaccommodating, greedy, and horrendous university;
Chancellors and deans, the supposed “leaders” of schools
Who walk by indebted students,
“Leaders” who neither understand nor choose to see the needs of students,
Drive by in their Mercedes Benz,
Come home to silk lined king beds,
Never having to worry about next month’s rent.

The Financial Aid office, who rejoices and laughs
As they take away one’s Middle Class Scholarship and Bobcat Grant;
Insufficient classes offered, not enough professors, and not even a waitlist exists,
The Registrar obviously has no care;
The Transportation and Parking Services, handing out tickets
Left and right;
As if the tuition, books, and parking permit were not expensive enough.

Charise Cating

Nature’s Healing

Buttermere Lake, with Part of Cromackwater, Cumberland, a Shower exhibited 1798 Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851 Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N00460

Joseph William Turner’s painting made me think about Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Nightingale.” Though the majority of the painting is dark, the light that is coming through goes along with the poem. The poem, although it talks about the melancholy stereotype of nightingales, the speaker claims that nightingales bring light if one allows them to. Just like the Romantic period, the speaker of the poem and the painting itself embraces the beauty of nature. In the poem, the speaker declares that many people claim that the songs of nightingales are melancholy. The speaker goes on to say that instead of projecting one’s sadness onto nature, one can see the beauty in it, but only with a clear mind. I agree with the speaker of the poem because of personal experience. Sometimes, when I’m upset, I like to be alone and though I find myself in the presence of nature, I tend to overlook it. The speaker is implying that if one takes the time to observe nature and forget about life’s hardships and worries just for a while, nature has the ability to heal. Another implication that the speaker makes is that we often forget about nature. We allow life to take over and therefore, look and walk past the beauty that surrounds us. Why do we allow for life to take over? The speaker of the poem believes that it is because we do not take the time to be alone and simply take in the beauty of nature, but it is also because we take it for granted. We think that the trees and lakes we have always passed by as a child will still be there when we are adults, but more often than not, these childhood trees and lakes have long been replaced with buildings. It is not until we realize what is gone that we begin to realize we should have taken the time to slow down, stop by, or simply reflect.

Charise Cating

A Different Man

Iron Maiden’s heavy metal version of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” is like Romantic poetry. One of the characteristics of Romanticism is defined as “A predilection for the exotic, the remote, the mysterious, the weird, the occult, the monstrous, the diseased, and even the satanic.” In the poem, the other sailors became angry with the Mariner for killing the albatross. Apparently, seeing an albatross meant good luck. However, the fact that the Mariner killed the albatross implies the he doesn’t believe in luck. The Mariner was shamed for doing something different and not believing in the norm. In other words, he was shamed for being different. When the fog cleared, though, the other sailors changed their mind and claimed that the albatross was actually bad luck and forgave the Mariner. Unfortunately, when the men had no water to drink, they again became angry with the Mariner.

Iron Maiden’s musical version of the poem reminds me of those who are unique because rock music is typically tied with opposing the norm. Iron Maiden praises the Mariner for being different. What truly makes something good luck? The Mariner clearly has thoughts of his own and doesn’t easily believe everything he sees. The Mariner forces us to question what we have painted as our reality. For example, is something really as bad as we make it out to be? Though we are entitled to our own opinions, sometimes we need to question the way we look at things.

Charise Cating

How to Advertise your Book

“The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano” is undoubtedly filled with several biblical references. His main purpose in doing so was to get his book published. At the time when his narrative came out, he was one of the first African writers to have a book published. How else could a former slave have gotten their work published? Equiano needed others to hear his story, therefore he knew that by referencing not only the Bible, but also many authors of that time, he would catch the interest of the public. 

Aside from needing to get his book to be read, he needed to prove that his book was worth reading. Similar to how Mary Rowlandson heavily used Biblical references in her book in order to get published because she was a woman, Equiano relied on references to get his narrative published because of the color of his skin. By referencing authors such as Denham, Milton, Cibber, Day, and several others, he establishes his authority as a reader and writer. To have been a former slave and have read the works of such great authors must be quite an accomplishment. Not only that, but he didn’t just want his audience to be former slaves or colored people; he wanted whites to read his work, too. He knew that if he referenced works that white people at the time read, they would be more inclined to pick up his narrative.

Equiano was smart in how he advertised his book. Without the help of the Biblical and literary references, his narrative never would have reached such a wide audience. Fortunately, he was successful in his campaign and was able to spread his story worldwide. 

By Charise Cating

What Comes Around Goes Around

“Beneath her foot-stool, Science groans in Chains,
And Wit dreads Exile, Penalties and Pains.
There foam’d rebellious Logic, gagg’d and bound,
There, stript, fair Rhet’ric languish’d on the ground;
His blunted Arms by Sophistryare born, 
And shameless Billingsgate her Robes adorn.
Morality, by her false Guardians drawn,
Chicane in Furs, and Casuistry in Lawn,
Gasps, as they straiten at each end the cord,
And dies, when Dulness gives her Page the word.”

A response to Image 2

Alexander Pope was heavily criticized by many writers of his time-period, the Enlightenment. In Image 2, he is represented as a mutation between a rat and a monkey with his recently published work at the time, The Dunciad. These verses represent the image because Pope claimed that being dull was praised and thus, people, mainly authors and artists, were offended by Pope’s accusation which resulted in the photo.
            Although the mocking images of Pope are inappropriate and unprofessional, one must not forget that The Dunciad is filled with slander of other authors. After Pope anonymously published the book in response to Theobald’s criticism of his Shakespeare edition, a childish back and forth slander between Pope and his criticizers began. While it may be easy to side with Pope because he was not afraid to criticize other writers of lacking skill, therefore ruining literature, he abuses his authorship.
            Not every piece of literature, whether it be in the form of books, essays, articles, magazines, blog posts, etc. we read is going to be enjoyable for us. However, that does not mean it is unacceptable and cannot be published. Why? Because of free speech. There are quite a few books and especially posts (i.e. Facebook or Twitter) that advocate immoral values, such as racism, but every person is entitled to their own opinion and can express it in their own way.
There was nothing wrong in Theobald criticizing Pope. Pope took it too personally and began the back and forth name-calling and degrading between him and the writers of his time. In fact, he should not have been surprised that these pictures of him were created in order to ridicule him.

By Charise Cating

Best Friends: Gulliver and Rowlandson

            Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels showcases the egotistical attitudes that eighteenth century English society held towards other societies. In other words, the English believed they were the best nation and were above others.
            In Part 2 Chapter 1, Gulliver comes across the giants. When picked up by the giant, Gulliver is observed and scrutinized similarly to how recently discovered creatures are looked at by scientists. Here, he is the inferior creature unlike in Part 1 where he was considered to be a giant by the Lilliputs.
            Swift’s description of how Gulliver was handled reads “He then placed me softly on the Ground upon all four, but I got immediately up, and walked slowly backwards and forwards, to let those People see I had no Intent to run away,” (8). The fact that the giant placed him on all fours suggests that the giant assumed Gulliver could not walk on two feet. It’s as if he thinks Gulliver is an animal; a savage (just like how Rowlandson viewed the Indians). Gulliver quickly realizes this, so he immediately stands up and although he claims he walks backwards and forwards to prove he will not run away, he actually does it so that the giant and his friends can see that he is capable of walking like a human. Not only that, but Gulliver’s actions show that he is afraid of being thought of as an animal.
In regards to Rowlandson’s narrative, she was taught from the beginning to view the Indians as inferior beings. She and Gulliver are alike because they both believe to be superior over others and choose to believe no one is equal to them. Several times, Rowlandson described the Indians as “heathens” and “savages” or “barbarians.” Swift uses this passage as a way of describing how the English acted. He is making fun of the arrogance the English held and implies that because of their attitude, the English are below everybody. By having Gulliver as the giant in the first part to having him as the smaller person in the second part, Swift claims that there is no superior society.

By Charise Cating

A Narrative of Hypocrisy

Dear Mary Rowlandson,

I just finished reading your narrative and I must say, I find you quite repulsive! You claim to be a Puritan woman who loves God, but your narrative drips with hypocrisy. Why, you must ask? Well, throughout your narrative, you consistently mention God and how good He is to you. Not only that, but you held the Bible as tightly as you could during your captivity. How is it that you held the Bible so dearly while holding a nasty and unfair opinion of the Indians?

Did your people not take the Indians’ land? Were your people not responsible for spreading diseases? Were you not aware that your people invaded the Indians’ hunting grounds, therefore taking food away from them? Mrs. Rowlandson, you act as if your people are innocent . One cannot be a follower or child of God if he carries hatred in his heart. You must have missed reading this verse in the Bible that says, “And the second is like, namely this. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” (Mark 12:31).

I must say one thing, though, Mrs. Rowlandson. You were beginning to form a friendship with your captors. You began eating their food, making trades with them, and you even cooked your master a meal! I pity you, Mrs. Rowlandson. Instead of admitting that you formed a friendship and understanding with the Indians, you were afraid of being outed by your community. The so called “squaws” and “heathens” became your friends. Why does it bother you that you began seeing your captors as real people rather than savages? It is because of your inability to show your true emotions, that is why. You are embarrassed to admit your true feelings because of your fear to be criticized. Instead of taking the chance to teach your people to love one’s neighbors like the Bible you all claim to love teaches, you painted an ugly portrait of yourself through your narrative.

Best,

William Apess

Charise Cating

Friend or Foe?

Mary Rowlandson’s narrative complicates the history of intolerance against indigenous people. As a Puritan woman, her narrative was written in a way that upheld Christian beliefs at the time. If Rowlandson had shown any kind of favor towards the Natives, her work might not have been published. Or worse, she would have been ostracized. As a Puritan, the belief that Natives were barbaric was instilled in Rowlandson. As a result, the time that Rowlandson spent with the Natives did not change her mind, even when she recognized kindness from the Natives.

One example of Rowlandson’s incapability to look at the Natives as just human beings is shown in the nineteenth remove. Rowlandson says, “Though they were Indians, I got them by the hand, and burst out into tears.” She was thankful for Tom and Peter providing her with the letter, but the fact that they were Indians was still her main focus as she received it. Tom and Peter being Indian had nothing to do with the situation, yet Rowlandson focuses on that and fails to think of them as human beings who did her a favor. More importantly, Rowlandson seems to ignore the suffering that the colonists inflicted upon the Natives. The Natives contracted diseases from the new settlers, starved due to having their hunting grounds invaded by the settlers, lost land to the settlers, etc. Her people’s perspective and dominating attitude towards the Natives left Rowlandson incapable of seeing the Natives as normal human beings and also left her incapable of understanding their righteous anger.

Although Rowlandson seems to show distaste towards the Natives in her narrative, there is also a possibility that she was beginning to look at them as just humans instead of “barbarous creatures” or “hell hounds.” When she emphasized that she held Tom and Peter’s hands, “Though they were Indians…” it is possible that she truly was thankful and did not care that they were Indians. By including “Though they were Indians,” she protects herself from being questioned about her true feelings towards the Natives. And how could her book have been published if she showed any favor towards the Natives? It is also important to note that Rowlandson’s constant mention of God and the Bible may have just been included only so her work could be published as her time was quite sexist and it was uncommon for women’s works to be published. Equally important is that Rowlandson started off as the stereotypical woman who depended on her husband, but her captivity slowly began to teach her how to survive without the help of a man. By centering her focus on God and claiming that she survived because of her faith, the fact that a woman survived without a man is brushed off to the side. Or maybe she was proud of herself for surviving on her own, but could not risk admitting that for the fear of being criticized.

By Charise Cating