Flight of the Drunken Airliner

It is a flight attendant
And he questioned one of three
“By your chipper smile and charismatic voice
Now what for do you accost me?

The airlock doors swung wide open
And I am next to leave
The bags are got, I soon must jet
I hear the bag carousel weave and weave

But still he holds the passenger
There was a flight, said he
“Hey! If you’ve got a funny story,
Attendant! Come walk with me

The attendant speaks of a day past
Where the attendant lost his cool
A passenger was acting unruly
Truly seemed one great fool.

The attendant strolled the aisles
With the cart of goodies tall
Asking, “Would you like some nuts?”
For one man and the rest of all.

His day seemed to be going well
About as good as it could be
Some turbulence over Ohio
But blue, white skies to be seen

The attendant took his seat
When all his work was done
“What is that out on the wing?”
Is someone having a bit of fun!?

He peers through the porthole window
To catch a little glimpse
A strange figure runs from view
“Great… time to pass out the chips.”
A customer in row two said,
“Hey, brah? I want a beer.”
The attendant dawns a smile,
Trying hard to conceal the fear.

“What was that on the wing?”
The question panged his head.
He hands out the Coca-Cola.
While many passengers simply read.

“I must be going mad,”
The attendant quietly said.
He strolled off to the bathroom,
To cleanse his bowels instead.

He walked off to the stall,
Closed the door with a “clank.”
“This job…. It’s shearing out my soul
But, at least it’s money in the bank.”

The attendant cleans his hands
Suddenly—hears a strange sound
“Okay, what the fuck is going on.”
He searches the source like a hound.

He peers down the sink,
And, boy, what does he see.
A little green demon scurries down
The attendant is scared as can be.

The flight is soon to land
They’ve passed the Great Lakes
The attendant wants to leave,
He’ll do whatever it takes.

Some rough air as the liner falls
Through the open air
Some people suddenly awaken
Look out? The attendant doesn’t dare.
“I thought this job was easy…”
The attendant solemnly thought
Customer service was impossible
When in his mind fears were wrought

As JetBlue Flight 1052
Descended to the ground,
The attendants brow was furrowed.
His face: it possessed a frown.

“If anything else goes wrong,
Today will be my last.”
The future did not look rosy,
And certainly not the past.

The plane taxied to the terminal,
And a passenger got up too soon.
“Miss, could you please sit down?”
The phrase, it meant his doom.

She accosted him madly,
Trying to grab her bag.
“Miss, you’re breaking the rules….”
SHUT UP YOU NAGGING FAG!

The attendant was at wits end,
For a damned good reason.
He made his mind up now,
Because madness was in season.

He grabbed two cans of Coors,
For the jolly road.
He pulled the emergency exit,
And shouted with a goad:

“I quit, I quit, I quit.
I thought that you show know:
This flight has been the worst,
So, now, enjoy the show!”
He slid down the chute,
And ran from the terminal gate.
He sure had a blast,
But criminal charges soon await.

 

“Flight of the Drunken Airliner” is a parodic rendition of “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” using the trope of a forewarning tale, themes of travel, and questions of sanity. While my parody lacks much of the Romantic quality of Coleridge’s original work, I’ve decided to use the generic plot as a skeletal structure to outline critiques of modern capitalism. The poem is intended to be a hybrid of antiquated and modern diction, with colloquial dialogue that punctuates the regular flow of poetic language and poetic rhyme pattern. I’ve used the same rhymed stanza format to tell the story, but, instead of being divided into parts, it is a simple long-form prose poem.

The narrative is a hybrid between the “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” episode of Twilight Zone and the news story of JetBlue Flight 1052. By combining both fiction and fact, I expound on two stories which represent the anxieties of post-war capitalism. In the Twilight Zone episode, William Shatner’s character Robert Wilson takes a flight where he experiences psychological trauma, and, in the JetBlue flight, flight attendant Steven Slater claims to face emotional abuse from a passenger, causing him to quit his job in a hilarious flare of commercial rebellion. By layering these two stories on top of one another, obscuring the differences between the two, I hope to represent the insanity of commercialism, technological fetishization, and the soul crushing nature of customer service work.

To some extent, I believe that humorizing the poem has done away with much of its historical, literary bite, but I’d argue that situating the poetry within a contemporary context is a useful act in and of itself. Where “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” is wholly a ghastly story of naturalistic revenge within the context of a moralistic tale, “Flight of the Drunken Airliner” is meant to be far less proselytizing. With the modernity of the rendition comes the indeterminacy of a moral lesson, and I hope that I’ve left enough for the reader to digest and make their mind up for themselves.

Peace

—Nathaniel Schwass

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The Harp as Poetic Resistance in “The Harp of India”

In Henry Louis Vivian Derozio’s poem, “The Harp of India,” Derozio appropriates the image of the harp to connote the consumption of Indian culture within Britain, similarly to the consumption of Irish culture into the British. For Ireland, the harp is an image which represents cultural, musical, and artistic heritage, and it is a uniting figure for Irish liberation movements contesting against the colonial rule of Britannia. Therefore, one might wonder why Derozio decides to use a typically Irish image to within an Indian context, but, rather, it seems like an image which works well as a poetic device for speaking to colonial power.

Like the poetry of his Irish counterparts, Derozio uses the image of the harp to represent cultural celebration, a reclamation of culture within a society plagued by colonial influence. Derozio represents his harp as a broken instrument: “Unstrung for ever, must thou there remain;/ Thy music once was sweet — who hears it now?” (ll 2-3). If the harp represents national identity and cultural pride, the “harp of India” is busted, unstrung and in need of repair.

Although it is broken, the speaker of the poem indicates a familiarity with the instrument, as the poem reads: “O! many a hand more worth than mine/ Once thy harmonious chords to sweetness gave” (ll. 8-9). Despite the fact that the harp cannot be played, and the speaker of the poem acknowledges their own inadequacy in playing it, there is a similarity between the act of playing the instrument and writing the poem, as both conjure a musical quality: the harp literally the plucking of chords and the poem stringing words together with a rhythmic pattern and linguistic mastery.

Likewise, the poem is itself musical, conjuring the sonnet form to laud the beautiful music of the instrument. Additionally, the speaker notes the “flowers still blooming on the minstrel’s grave,” the undoubtedly given to the skilled master of the harmonious instrument (l. 11). Although the musical minstrel is dead, the poetic minstrel lives on, within the pen of the poet. The last three lines of the poem celebrate the return of the minstrel, this time through the hands of the poet: “Those hands [the minstrel’s] are cold — but if thy notes divine/ May be mortal wakend once again,/ Harp of my country, let me strike the strain!” (ll. 12-14). Derozio, although crying the death of the minstrel (the old guard of Indian culture), shows the bards of language to be the new holder of the torch, a new minstrel by which the people can celebrate their national heritage, their cultural pride, and their rights to national sovereignty.

Peace

—Nathaniel Schwass

Haight/Ashbury

I will be appropriating William Blake’s “London” to the hedonistic homeland of Haight/Ashbury in San Francisco. The place which characterizes and symbolizes the hippie movement, the Grateful Dead, and counter-culture, the intersection of Haight and Ashbury, leading to the revelry of Golden Gate Park, is a side of San Francisco which, once the center of alternative societies and subversive thoughts, has become a platitudinous center of consumption and marvel: ripe with tourists and overpriced retailers. While forsaking the grim tone of Blake, it is hoped that the freedom of rhymed stanzas mimics the intellectual and artistic liberation of the counter-culture movement. I also find the speaker’s perspective of the silent observer as incredibly attractive for the subject matter of this poem.

As I thunder through each slanted street,

I hear the metallic twang of hanging wire.

Fatigue-bearing men sling drugs on their feet,

blazing rolled papers as the gulls soar higher.

 

Squares thread by in with a hurried pace,

dragging poochie and straining his collar.

Clean cut men stride fast as if leading the race,

while the grizzly man pan handles for a dollar.

 

Youth trade stories about the last concert:

“You never got to see Jack White!?”

Burgeoning intellectuals mention Flaubert,

while munching expensive food bite by bite.

 

Sweating hippies beat the drum of dance,

basking in the blaze of the sun glazed hill.

The ego had died, he entered the trance,

all feels well while there’s time to kill.

 

—Nathaniel Schwass

Gericault and the Human

By looking at the first picture by Gericault, it becomes clear that we are departing from the normative expectations of Romantic paiting. The presence of human intervention within the verdant landscape is clear. Buildings rise from the tan, ragged landscape, flesh with the cold stone. The aqueduct appears on the left corner of the painting, one of the classic examples of molding the landscape to the needs of the homosapien. Humans can be seen at the center of the painting, yet, while they are central in terms of placement, they still are at the periphery the far edges of the landscape.

The element of humans seems to contradict the centrality of nature within romantic art, but these humans are one within nature, naked, nude and vulnerable. This element of the naturalistic man is purely romantic, since man is nude, one within nature.

Nature is a curative element for the human. It is the best reparative salve for the human psyche, medicine comes from the earth, and nature can heal the broken soul. “The Dungeon” reveals what happens when people are stripped from this natural setting, when the nature is lost. 

The dungeon is described as “made for man;” it is cold and dark, holds the bodies of humans in cells made for man by man (l. 1). The speaker asks of the guilty: “Is this the only cure?” (l. 5) He describes the punishment that this cure for immorality entails: “Each pore and natural outlet shrivell’d up…/ His energies roll back upon his heart,/ And stagnate and corrupt; till changed to poison” (ll. 6-9). The greatest punishment that man faces in exile is to be deprived of nature, to be deprived of the primal, the essential, and the real. 

The next stanza seems to present a better option: O nature!/ Healest thy wandering and distempered child” (ll. 20-21). Rather than chaining the offender: “pourest on him thy soft influences,/ Thy sunny hues, fair forms, and breathing sweets,/ Thy melodies of woods, and winds, and waters,/ Till he relent” (ll. 20-25). Man can reallign his moral compass within the grasp of nature, in the arms of the earth. 

This relates to the ideas of industrialization, foreshadowed in Gericault’s picture. Civilization looms on the right side of the painting, oncoming and foreboding. The cityscape of industrialization is a dungeon by itself, encapsulating man in an iron, concrete cage of his own design. Gericault, and the romantics, yearn for a time released from the chains of modernity. Every man is a slave, every man is a prisoner.

-Nathaniel 

Electric Guitar and Somber Fear: Iron Maiden

In the fourth section of “The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere,” the reader gets a description of the sounds that are coming from the ghastly landscape of the poem’s setting: “I heard the Lavrock sing;/ Sometimes all little birds that are/ How They seem’d to fill the sea and air/ With their sweet jargoning” (ll. 348-351). The aesthetics of the poem are “sweet,” and the sounds that you hear are the light “sing[ing] of “all [the] little birds” that “fill the sea and air.”

Clearly, these are far different aesthetics than you hear from a metal song where Adrian Smith and David Murray pluck away at the strings of their powerful electric guitars, sliding up and down the scale in a vibrant display of a heavy metal musical virtuoso. Dickinson’s vocals are shrill in tonality, high in pitch, and aggressive in their delivery. So, it seems that aesthetics of the song are somewhat of a shortcoming in the song’s representation.

However, about five minutes into the song, the powerful chug of electric guitars and the slamming percussion of McBrian stop for a moment, to quote the lines near 204, interpreted by the band as: “One after one by the star dogged moon/ too quick for groan or sigh/ each turned his face with a ghastly pang/ and cursed me with his eye.” In this section of the song, the tone of the track switches to a calm and peaceful expression, similar to the aesthetics of the actual poem, noted above. In this section of the song, Dickinson makes reference to the poetry with shocking clarity in a respectful homage. It shows that the band members are conscious of the poem itself, not merely appropriating the track for their acoustic endeavors.

Furthermore, the interpretation of the poem is inherently romantic, given that Coleridge was awed at the idea of a poem’s obscurity. This multiplicity of interpretation leaves the poem as a perfect example of a piece of fiction ripe for interpretation within a musical platform. I believe that Coleridge would have been honored to hear his narrative poetry interpreted in the heavy metal setting.

Peace

—Nathaniel Schwass

Commodifying Humanism: Profit Motive, Capitalism, and Slavery

In Robert Cruishank’s picture entitled “John Bull Taking a Clear View of the Negro Slavery Question!!,” the drawing draws questions and scrutinizes the financial and economic interests of slave emancipators, abolitionists, and slave sympathizers. Personally, I don’t believe this picture belongs in either category, “pro-slavery” or “anti-slavery;” rather, this picture is anti-abolitionist.

Along the left side of the picture, the blue sign reads “Petitions to both Houses of Parliament for removing the duties on East India sugar,” hanging directly above pictures of a cracked whip and abused slaves. Another individual, just left of the center of the picture, is dressed in a Quaker garb, holding a sign that reads “Buy only East India sugar, ’tis sinful to buy any other,” where the man has an invoice from E.I. Sugar.  These two signs , in addition to the invoice, essentially accuse the abolitionists of having vested interests in economic gain. The picture accuses their pure intentions as being a veil for their their true interests, economic compensation for their progressive social movement.

Additionally, the “clear view” highlighted at the bottom of the picture is ironic, given that John Bull is not looking with the clarity of the telescope at the “negroes” in question, but, instead, is hyperfocused on the pictures of slavery’s injustices, rather than the joyous socialization of the slaves on the right side of the picture. This proposes that abolitionists do not want their supporters to see the true nature of slavery, with its happy, dancing captives, but, because of their economic interests, they encourage their supporters to only see the immoral abuse of slaves by malicious slave owners.

This economic argument in the discourse of slavery can also be found in and contrasted with The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, where Equiano argues against the current treatment of slaves with another economic argument. Equiano explains that “neglect certainly… cause[s] a decrease in the births as well as in the lives of the grown negroes” (108). He states that he can “quote many instances… [where] the negroes are treated with lenity and proper care, by which their lives are prolonged, and their masters are profited” (108). These “negroes” were treated so well that their owners “needed no fresh stock of negroes at any time” (108). Concluding his argument, Equiano states that, with the common, brutal mode of slave treatment, “it is no wonder taht the decrease should require 20,000 new negroes annually to fill up the vacant places of the dead” (108). This argument of treating slaves with “lenity” and “proper care” is a purely economical one, not catering to the idea that slaves are lives and, hence, should be treated with the respect that a life is due. Instead, Equiano makes a purely economical appeal to the psychology of his enslaving, rich, and white audience. He is aware that a purely moralistic or humanistic argument would simply not suffice; therefore, he will appeal to their wallets rather than their souls. A furitive master of rhetoric and logic, Equiano realizes that the cost of abolition would, first and foremost, be the loss of free labor, and, hence, he makes an appeal to that horrible, amoralistic side of the “Negro Slavery Question.”

With our modern, 21st century perspective, it would be easy to write-off Equiano as some sort of slavery sympathizer. Yet, we must be conscious of the rhetorical strategies needed to pierce the thick shell of slavery psychology, and, clearly, Equiano tries every rhetorical strategy in his power to do so.

Peace

—Nathaniel Schwass

Intertextuality with Pope: Colonial Psychology and the Patronizing Pointed Finger

In the seventh letter of Hartly House, Calcutta, Sofia includes an excerpt from Alexander Pope’s An Essay on Man: Epistle I. In this long form epistolic poem, Pope explores man’s navigation of the pastoral landscape, man’s naivete, and man’s selfishness as he conforms the land and the world to his specific needs.

What immediately grabbed my attention about this example of intertexuality was the doubling of the epistolary genre, including a epistolary poem within an epistolary novel. In this letter, Sofia discusses “that if any earth-born creature could be pardoned of the sin of ambition, it would be the Asiatics” (47). She continues to say that she has “seen and heard that numbers of [the Indian natives] are proud enough to believe, and apply to themselves, the poet’s language,” which reads:

For me the mine a thousand treasure brings;

For me health gushes from a thousand springs;

Seas roll to waft me, suns to light me rise;

My footstool earth, my canopy the skies. (48)

In this passage, which is the 5th section of Pope’s incrimination of humanity of their naturalistic urges that come with their consumptive appetites, the speaker becomes the naive human subject, believing that the world is built and tailored specifically for him.

Revealingly, Sofia accuses the Moguls of this selfish, unending verdant desire. She uses a description of the Mogul’s imperial residences as evidence of this passion worth pardoning: the “residences [of the Mogul emperor]… are in the field,” “atteneded by the most of the greatest men in the empire, and followed by all kinds of merchants and tradesmen from the capital cities,” as he makes “a tour of a thousand miles every year, through some part of his dominions” (48).

Ironically, Sofia accuses the Moguls of being verdant consumers—although she patronizingly pardons them, whereas the obvious and most guilty suspects of this crime are the Europeans themselves. Sofia, unable to see outside of the colonial psychology, sees the Moguls, as reinforced by the intertexuality with Pope, as the naive, selfish conquerors of their pastoral dominion. Clearly, the tone of the poem would be much better directed towards those who intrude on the lands of the colonized: the East India Company.

Whereas Sofia would like to think the Moguls are culprits in a naturalistic conquest, spurned by humanistic selfishness, the Europeans are, by-and-large, the guilty party.

Peace

—Nathaniel Schwass

 

The Linguistic Hegemony of Empire: A Language of Power

On the first page of Johnson’s Preface to A dictionary of the English Language, Johnson indicates a distaste and a frustration with his difficult task of working to comprehend, understand, and taxonomize the English language. He notes that “wherever [he] turned [his] view, there was perplexity to be disentangled,” “choice was to be made out of boundless variety,” and “adulterations were to be detected, without a settled test of purity” (Johnson 1). For Johnson, English far from a perfect, ornate language capable of moving souls and spirits.

While this represents a lexicographer’s desperate, frustrated attempts at wrangling in language (tying it to signs and signifiers, phrases and definitions), essayist, Englishman, and colonial thinker Thomas Babington Macaulay sees English as the only reasonable platform for education within the British colonies. Forgoing and disregarding the problematic, wordy overgrowth that is the process of linguistic evolution, Macaulay expresses concern that teaching the natives of the British colonies (i.e. India)in their native tongue would be a inconsequential waste of colonial resources, noting that the languages of colony, such as Sanskrit and Arabic, “may become useless” and the sciences of those languages “may be exploded” (Macaulay 2). For Macaulay, these languages are simply the platform for “bad” knowledge: “the dialects among the natives of this part of India contain neither literary nor scientific information” (2). Not only do their languages contain little worth knowing, but these natives are “so poor and rude that, until they are enriched from some other quarter, it will not be easy to translate any valuable work into them” (2).

The question then becomes: what information is Macaulay privileging as knowledge worth knowing?

It is certainly not the spiritual practices of India, as Macaulay believes that the indigenous “waste their youth in learning how to purify themselves after touching an ass or what texts of the Vedas they are to repeat to expiate the crime of killing a goat” (7). It is certainly not the poetry, given that Macaulay believes that no many would argue that “the Arabic and Sanskrit poetry could be compared to that of the great European nations” (3). And, it is certainly not the history of India, because Macaulay thinks that “all the historical information which has been collected from all the books written in the Sanskrit language is less valuable than what may be found in the most paltry abridgments used at preparatory schools in England” (3).

So, it is not that the language of Sanskrit or Arabic is naturally worse than the dialect of English, it is simply the ideas that these languages promote and disseminate. Put simply, Macaulay believes that the culture, history, and spirituality of this colonized culture are intellectually worthless; it’s just that the language of these beliefs, truths, and ideologies is part-and-parcel. For Macaulay, the ideas of a society, and the language upholding those ideas, are elements by which a society can be judged. This is to say: Macaulay thinks the language is bad, because the ideas are too.

This is a very convenient, and safe, ideological position for the colonizer to take. As you take away the language, you take away those messy, subversive ideas that make colonial subjects so difficult to subdue, suppress, and repress. While there is no intrinsic value to English as a language, the language of the colonizer must be the language of power, for the colonized must think, feel, and reason with the language of the colonizer, for this is the only way for the colonial psychology to dig its claws in the colonial psyche.

Peace

—Nathaniel Schwass

A Well Dressed Satire: Hiding the Yahoo

In human society, the advent of clothing and fashion has created many functional benefits for the homo sapien. Protecting humans from the harsh elements was, at first, the fundamental reason for clothing oneself, yet the use and application of clothing has evolved alongside human culture and society: creating a system of gendered signalling, a platform for creative expression, and a signifier of personal wealth, status, or good taste.

For the Houyhnhums, this element of cultured expression is noticeably absent, and, while it might seem as a loss through a ‘humancentric’ frame of reference, Swift seems to present it as a problematic hindrance in the humanistic sphere.

In order to differentiate himself from the ravenous, animalistic Yahoos, Gulliver takes great steps to appear as Other. One of the key factors is of difference is his clothing, which the Master Houyhnhum notices as a key factor of disparity: “[he] could hardly believe me to be a right Yahoo, because my Body had a different Covering from the others of my Kind” (218). While this might be interpreted as a factor which helped Gulliver find his way into the Houyhnhum care by creating a factor of intrigue, it also creates a problem when clothing is missing.

Although Gulliver takes great care to hide his naked, Yahooian body from the Houyhnhum gaze, one night his fabric protection fails him when a Sorrel Nag of the Master Houyhnhum notices that, as he’s sleeping, his “Clothes [had] fallen off on one side, and [his] Shirt [had fallen] above [his] Waist” (218). The Nag quickly details the strange appearance of Gulliver without his clothing described as “part of [him being] White, some Yellow, at least not so White, and some Brown” (218). The revealing of the physical self associates Gulliver with the lowly Yahoos, the exact thing that Gulliver so desperately hoped to avoid: “I had hitherto concealed the Secret of my Dress, in order to distinguish myself as much as possible” (218). Ironically, the exposing of Gulliver’s true, natural body is that which draws the connection between the proud, intelligent Gulliver and his lowly, carnivorous counterparts.

Interestingly, the Houyhnhums  interrogate the outed Gulliver, where he explains the customary practice of clothing “those Parts, that Nature taught us to conceal” (219). Curious, the Master Houyhnhum asks Gulliver how “Nature Should teach us to conceal what Nature had given,” effectively showing the gap in the human logic (219). Clearly, Swift valorizes the Houyhnhum logic of naturalistic freedom, showing oppressive ends of human logic. Gulliver’s desperate attempts at creating distance from his primitive Yahoo counterparts underlies the human goal of Othering themselves from the green umbrella of Mother Nature. While the Houyhnhums have a sophisticated means of communication, social norms, and a domestic sphere without the necessity of a dogmatic, problematic social hierarchy enforced by spurious requirements such as clothing and style, humans have a desperate need to separate themselves from the overgrowth. In this way, Swift seems to approve of the simplistic nature of the Houyhnhum culture, placing it as a text by which we can read and respond to the oppressive regime of social norms and ques.

The Religion and Rhetoric of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson

In the opening selections of the captivity narrative, “Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson,” Mary Rowlandson creates a dialogue of sympathy and empathy that is based on a religious rhetoric, using religious language and invoking quotes from the Bible to underlie and support her cries for narrative approval. In this way, Rowlandson writes for the white subjects of the British empire, creating a narrative which dehumanizes mostly, although there are punctuated moments of social empathy.

In the opening paragraph and first remove of her narrative, Rowlandson employs a specific Christian rhetoric to advance the ideological goals of her problematic text. In a quote from Deuteronomy 32.39, the editor places a quote which validates Rowlandson’s journey through slavery: “See now that I, even I am he, and there is no god with me, I kill and I make alive, I wound and I heal, neither is there any can deliver out of my hand.” While this quote is sort of confusing, it is imbued with violent, warlike rhetoric. What is interesting about this quote is its context, where 2 verses later He states: “For I lift up my hand to heaven, and swear: As I live forever, when I whet my flashing sword, and my hand takes hold on judgment; I will take vengeance on my adversaries, and will repay those who hate me” (Deuteronomy 32:40-41; my emphasis).

This vengeful rhetoric, the smiting of foes, is directly related to Rowlandson’s narrative. Revealingly, this relates to Thomas’ ruminations on the “City Upon a Hill,” where he states that: “the colonists celebrated their victory, and affirmed their religious fanaticism, declaring the Pequot extinct, and explained their victory once again as an act of God: ‘Let the whole Earth be filled with his glory! Thus the lord was pleased to smite our Enemies in the hinder Parts, and to give us their Land for an Inheritance.'”

While Rowlandson’s narrative is interesting in the way that it infrequently humanizes the American Indians, one can’t help but isolate the beginning passages that describe being “butchered by those merciless heathen,” and the quotes from the first remove which describe the “yelling of those black creatures in the night, which made the place a lively resemblance of hell.” This language, undoubtedly moving for the British or colonist reader, is the real source of rhetorical violence which occurs in this text. Rowlandson conjures the imagery of hell, the absolute, immoral sphere of existence: diametrically opposed to serenity and righteousness of heaven. While it is important to understand the context in which Rowlandson is writing, that being her forced removal from her settlement and the death of her family, our post-colonial frame of reference does not allow this to go unnoticed. Rowlandson tactically uses Christian rhetoric to undermine the humanity of Native Americans, entirely reducing them an enemy. This is a classic ideological strategy for validating war, and, in the worst cases, genocide.

This dehumanizing, demonizing way of writing reduces the natives to mere immoral Others. In the second Chapter of The Second Treatise of Government, Locke explains that the state of nature is “a state of equality, in which no-one has more power and authority than anyone else; because it is simply obvious that creatures of the same species and status… should also be equal” (3). Where is the state of nature in Rowlandson’s narrative to be found? Overall, the overarching portrayal of American Indians in this narrative is a hideous one, which affirms the narrative of American genocide broached in Thomas’ post.

—Nathaniel Schwass