Religion isn’t a joke, Jim. Millions suffer from it every year.

It is one thing to repeat a question, to try and use it as a gateway to spark a conversation, but to answer it with another question means that you can never understand what to overall message that we are striving to denounce. We know that through history we have realized the atrocities indigenous people were forced to and yet the bias that exist tries to sugarcoat it the way Disney turns a tale of death and depression into a happy go lucky song number followed by true love’s kiss. But the purpose here is not to acknowledge the controversial history of Disney, it’s to acknowledge the dehumanization of indigenous people. When it comes to accounts like Mary Rowlandson, it is best to approach it with a grain of salt. There are always multiple sides to a story which is why the narrative does not just end at the massacre. Instead, her as a captive is shocking since the Europeans are the ones to always conquer, never to be the one that is overthrown. As much as it can be seen as a form of understanding to let Mary do her thing and practice her religion, it is that religion which fueled the unspoken genocide of the indigenous people.

While this piece can be seen as a way to engage the white audience and say “hey they aren’t all savages” that word savages will still be in connection to them, just another way to further that divide and dehumanize a human. One comment in discussion was made that tried to claim that it is in human nature that we segregate but it is the influence of religion that causes Mary to have a closeted perspective of her captors. It is not human nature, it is a social construct. So even if we were to flip the script, swap the roles to have the indigenous be the captive, the narrative would change and not for the better. We as humans are all different and have come to realize that race falls into that category but the reality of the world that we live in today would mean the actions of a flipped script would be overlooked. To put us all together in one category and say we are the savages is a lie as we are all individuals, but it pulls us all back into this never-ending cycle of placing the blame on everyone and not the ones who committed.

This is why specificity matters but the current dilemma we now face in our society washes over it. It can be said the worst thing to do is commit murder, but it is only because of the rules a society sets in place (if a serial killer didn’t know killing was a bad thing or just didn’t have remorse then they may never be able to fully understand the gravity of their actions because they just don’t know *cough cough* Gaston). So, while some may find peace in death due to their religious beliefs, it works to justify the action. But, the collective we do not all follow the same beliefs and would prefer life over death. For this, it doesn’t complicate because it is easy to dismiss by saying it is the oddity, the exception to the overall belief and thus still leading the unspoken indigenous people and leading to the plays that focus on a fabled romance about Cortez rather than the truth but at least here, there is more color to the truth.

Xotchitl Marisol Garibay

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Gender and Genocide

In Mary Rowlandson’s “Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson” it is evident that the Native people definitely underwent a type of genocide or holocaust. Mary Rowlandson’s experiences with the Algonquian people complicates the history of intolerance towards Native Americans. It began with the colonization of these Native people because not only did the colonizers want to take the land, they wanted to purify everything that was already there. Genocide, or the deliberate killing of a large group of people is a lot deeper than murder. When genocide is committed the goal is to erase a groups complete existence and legacy. So in this case the killings of the Natives acts as the genocide. In the students Blog post they talk about how gruesome the colonists killed Native Americans, although murder is never right they did more than just kill these people they terrorized them out of simple hate. While doing the reading I found myself wanting to sympathize with Mary Rowlandson but at the end of the day I was reminded that she was still a colonist herself, from the beginning the way she describes the Native Americans is almost subhuman. She describes them as savage and “barbarous”. Also, we are well aware that Mary’s personal beliefs stem from racism, she makes us almost tolerate her. Her racism doesn’t seem genuine it seems forced and like something that was learned rather than programmed in her. The persona of her character makes it difficult to hate her but at the same time you realize that she indeed is also like the rest of the colonizers. 

Also throughout the reading Rowlandson seems to tolerate the Native Americans and in some instance even describes them almost as kind. The experience of her captivity definitely allows us as readers to see a relationship between Native Americans and a colonist. What is more interesting as well is the fact that Mary is a woman and she’s also a mother so when I read the reading that made me in a sense want to sympathize with her more. I think the fact that she was a mother also played a role because in the instance where they allowed her to see her child you could see that the Native Americans put their differences with her aside and put her motherhood first. So yes although there was intolerance circumstance combatted against it.

Eugenia Brumley

The Complicated Victim

The exchange between Mary Rowlandson and her native Algonquian captors complicates the discourse of discrimination against indigenous people. A previous student’s blog post, “A City Upon Intolerance and Genocide,” illustrates the savage genocide experienced by the natives. However, in Rowlandson’s narrative, A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson, she experiences abhorrent brutality from the indigenous people. Who is the true victim? Unfortunately, the devastating brutality illustrated from both the colonists and the natives is an unceasing cycle of suffering and violence. Furthermore, this tragic cycle is represented in Dryden and Winthrop. Dryden and his unsanctioned love illustrates the discrimination against the colonized people, whilst Winthrop justifies their intolerance through religious superiority. Mary Rowlandon’s narrative provides insight to the cruelty experienced by the colonized. I do not believe that the violence can be condemned to either the colonists or natives, rather both inflicted and experienced the savagery. Unfortunately, the biggest tragedy is the death of innocent people from both sides.

– Hongxi Su

Breaking Unfounded Intolerance

It is difficult to read so many stories and narratives surrounding the native and understand how high the ignorance was. In the beginning of Mary Rowlandson’s narrative, the scene she depicts is quite gruesome, but as modern readers it can be understood that the native’s violence was an effect of intolerance. However, in her narrative Rowlandson demonstrates that the ingrained intolerance can be forgotten when interacting with the natives. Cross-cultural exchange has both confirmed and complicated the history of intolerance, and all while depicting the effects of native genocide.

Within her narrative there are passages where Rowlandson demonstrates her ability to show tolerance. This struck me over and over, and I believe this demonstrates how damaging ignorance can be. Most people with open minds can come to comprehend misunderstood groups of people. Of course, taking the time period into consideration, it can be said that going against the grain was much more difficult. This however does not justify the atrocities committed because the natives were unlike them. Rowlandson in her narrative seems to slowly come to the same conclusion; her intolerance was unfounded. She wrote,

Before I knew what affliction meant, I was ready sometimes to wish for it. When I              lived in prosperity, having the comforts of the world about me, my relations by me,            my heart cheerful, and taking little care for anything, and yet seeing many, whom I            preferred before myself, under many trials and afflictions, in sickness, weakness,              poverty, losses, crosses, and cares of the world, I should be sometimes jealous least I        should have my portion in this life, and that Scripture would come to my mind,                   “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every Son whom he                        receiveth” (Hebrews 12.6). But now I see the Lord had His time to scourge and                      chasten me. (Rowlandson, Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary                Rowlandson)

Her narrative undoubtedly confirms intolerance, and complicates it in the sense that her world view shifts in the span of the weeks spent with them. Intolerance is judgement of the unknown or the different and that is clearly demonstrated here. It becomes more than just intolerance when the group subjected to it feel so frustrated that they become something not ingrained into them. They in their frustration and anger retaliated and it is sad because in doing so, they confirm the blanket statements made about them. In the quote above she seems to say that God punished her for her want of affliction, but I believe that she believed more so that he chastened her for her intolerance of a group she did not know. He put her in that situation to rectify her way of thinking and to not blindly believe in the generally popular portrayal of natives. While intolerance was present in her narrative, she also subtlety wrote about how in her captivity she tore down all  the preconceived notions of who the natives were.

-Sabrina Vazquez

Mary Rowlandson’s Journey of Confusion

John Winthrop left behind the ideals that genocide and sexism were all in the name of religion. In fact, it’s the reason why many crimes that have happened in America throughout history, have been committed and tried to be justified through history books. Something interesting that Thomas Pham’s post mentioned was genocidal intent. This is something that was always a part of the plan; colonists wanted to take the land they felt belonged to them by divine right, while converting everyone to Christianity and if there was someone who didn’t want to have their home and beliefs raided, then they deserved to die. Mary Rowlandson mentions, “I have seen the extreme vanity of this world: one hour I have been in health, and wealthy, wanting nothing. But the next hour in sickness and wounds, and death, having nothing but sorrow and affliction.” But, this is what the Algonquian must’ve been feeling themselves because they knew there was genocidal intent; which is why I believe they responded the way the same way they were shown.

This emphasis on religion, specifically Christianity is seen in Mary Rowlandson’s “Narrative of the Captivity & Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson.” She would constantly mention: “no Christian friend near me” or “no Christian soul” was around her to help her. She explicitly stated that she wanted help from someone only if they were Christian. But, later in the narrative we see that cross-religion definitely created some confusion for her, as well as for those reading at the time. We talked in class about the fact that Rowlandson couldn’t seem to nice to the Algonquian people, but in some parts, she couldn’t help it. There’s a part in the narrative where the Natives came back from Sadbury and one of them told her they had just killed “two English men at Sadbury” (Rowlandson, 38). But, in the next paragraph she says, “Yea, instead of that, he many times refreshed me,” along with, “they would always give me something,” describing it as something she will always remember as, “sweet, pleasant, and delightful relish” (Rowlandson, 39). This definitely complicates the situation because it shows that Algonquian people were not just “ravenous beasts” as she described them in the beginning and even towards the end, they were people too. Despite the fact that they had killed her people, she was beginning to see beyond that. I can only imagine the frowns on people’s faces when they came across this part, thinking there was no way that they could be human too.

What Was Then, Is Still Now: A City Upon a Hill of Oppression

The author of last year’s blog post spoke on how today’s American public is generally ignorant of the original “fantasy of religious superiority and human inequality,” inspired by Winthrop’s “City Upon the Hill.” However, I feel as though subconsciously, it is exactly those ideas that dangerously fill many Americans with pride when imagining their beloved, “City Upon a Hill.”

In her first remove of, A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson, Mary Rowlandson writes:

“It was a solemn sight to see so many Christians lying in their blood, some here and some there, like a company of sheep torn by wolves.”

These opening words illustrate a Native attack on Lancaster, referring to Natives as wolves, and puritans as sheep. Rowlandson’s choice of simile is biblical. Followers of Jesus were typically referred to as innocent flock of sheep. With this immediate biblical framework, Rowlandson creates dichotomy and opposition- something I’d like to argue has been used over time as propaganda to support the oppression of Natives and people of color.

While Rowlandson’s narrative may have been a soft weapon against stereotypes of Native, Indigenous tribes with the ways in which her narrative had the power to move even present day students into feeling empathy for her, this does not take away from the amount of power her narrative has in uplifting westernized superiority over Native, Indigenous culture. Rowlandson describes her observations of the Algonquin culture, referring to many of the men and women using (the then) familial terms such as “papoose.” Through her intimate connections with Native Mothers and the community she becomes a part of, readers are left pondering what Rowlandson really thought of the Algonquin people. For a split second, an educated reader provided with the context of her narrative, is able to perceive Native American culture in a different light; one in which humanizes the differences in their culture through the ways in which they are connected to concepts of family, love, and protection.

However, in most high school public history courses, this version of history is not emphasized nor explored. Furthermore, although Rowlandson denies some stereotypes, such as all Native men being drunks, her narrative still promotes the idea that her captivity was an act of God, dismissing the circumstances that had to have been met in order for the Algonquin people, natives of the land, to retaliate in such a way.  Rowlandson and her story, a best seller throughout all the colonies, promotes superior Puritan ideals and beliefs over the mass killings of Native Americans whom experienced several other devastating forms of oppression such as starvation, separation, etc. In America, the world’s “melting pot,” I can still see the ways in which Christianity is held up as a dominant religion, even beside the fact that westernized religion has led to the persecution of countless souls throughout American history. In our nation’s flag salute, we are identified as “one nation, under God,” not Budha, not Allah, or so forth. With nearly all Presidents citing Winthrop’s “City Upon a Hill,” this goes to show that no matter how progressive we like to think our nation has become, it will always be affected by how deeply rooted its’ history is in narratives such as this, where history is one sided, easily consumed and dependent upon the oppression of others.

-By Angelica Costilla-Mancha

Through the Lens of a Heartless Puritan

Colony

Within Mary Rowlandson’s captive narrative and John Winthrop’s “City Upon a Hill”, it is clear that there was no room for acceptance for indigenous people within the egotistical Puritain society. Through Rowlandson’s retelling of her traumatic experiences, this notion becomes clearer as readers are able to experience the cold and selfish mindset of prejudiced Puritan’s as herself through her own voice, such as when she “chose rather to go along with those (as I may say) ravenous beasts” (1). As horrid as her situation was, witnessing many if her loved ones die before her eyes, it is telling that her prejudiced nature was still able to overtake her emotions in this moment of despair as she never fails to to refer to the Algonquian people as animals, knowing full well their shared history with her people. Furthermore, she demonstrates the Puritan’s strong religious beliefs that, in their mind, justify their animalstic outlook on indigenous people as she note the “solemn sight to see so many Christians lying in their blood, some here, and some there, like a company of sheep torn by wolves, all of them stripped naked by a company of hell-hounds, roaring, singing, ranting, and insulting, as if they would have torn our very hearts out; yet the Lord by His almighty power preserved a number of us from death, for there were twenty-four of us taken alive and carried captive”(1). Despite belonging to a society that committed countless sins to drove out thousands of innocent people out of their homeland for their own selfish reasons, Rowlandson still believes her people as God’s the chosen ones with a plan they will blindly follow until death.

It is ironic that Rowlandson would associate the Algonquian people as animals while trying to paint her people as devoted religious victims in her capturing when her people behaved savagely when colonizing. In Winthrop’s “City Upon a Hill” he describes the gruesome acts of “(Native) Infants… torn from their mother’s breasts, and hacked to pieces in the presence of their parents, and pieces thrown into the fire and in the water, and other sucklings, being bound to small boards, were cut, stuck, and pierced, and miserably massacred in a manner to move a heart of stone”. These acts only demonstrate the pure evil that resided in colonists hearts as they shamelessly tore apart every aspect of native’s lives with no reason other than to cause agony.

In an attempt to convey a sympathetic tale about facing trials and tribulations through the devotion to God, Rowlandson only proves that her and her people’s horrible prejudice against indigenous people created a wretched blotch of history that too many had to needlessly suffer.

–Jose Ramirez

There Is No Power In Silence

By: Katherine Hernandez

There is a theme of whitewashing American history at the expense of the ego of eurocentric powers, and this is especially true when it comes to literature that is presented to society. And unfortunately, the whitewashing of historical events has led to the erasure of the struggles minorities face at the expense of colonization in North America. Topics of genocides and sexism are still prevalent in our society today, and this is due to the silencing of so many voices that occurred during the gentrification that took place in America.

The stereotype of indigenous people being barbarians comes to life in Mary Rowlandson’s narrative. A nation full of genocide towards indigenous people suddenly becomes the victim of its own atrocities when there is pillaging of a white community by indigenous people. Suddenly the acts of killing people for simply being is seen as an inhumane act of greatest proportions. And while it isn’t hard to sympathize with Mary and the circumstances she finds herself in, it is very hard to maintain that empathy for her when looking at things from an outside perspective. Mary faced hardships, that is true, with the death of her child, at the mercy of indigenous people, as a human with the capability to empathize with her, one very much does so. Mary is a mother and it isn’t very hard to feel the grief and strife she faces during those 11 weeks of the narrative she shares with us, however in a much larger perspective, does that mean that the genocides that are happening in America are only important when white people begin to face them? There is a double standard at play, in which the death of so many indigenous people is not taken into account.

There is again a theme of romanticism that envelops the story Mary shares with us; the pain and grief she goes through are not real until it solely happens to her. It is as if the eurocentric mindset does not permit the suffrages of minorities and instead paints them out to be less than of others (others being Europeans) The intolerance towards the indigenous people dehumanizes them and Mary’s narrative only pushes that vendetta further. Much like Dryden’s play The Indian Emperor, the identity of these indigenous people has stripped away and their sole purpose seems to revolve around the colonizers. Their stories are lost midst the eurocentric romanticism that is displayed. It is not just a genocide of indigenous groups, it’s genocide of their existence. Their voices are not given a platform thus muting out struggles during the era of colonization in America.

What to Expect

The answer to the question, “Do moments of cross-cultural, cross-linguistic, and cross-religious exchange between Rowlandson and her native Algonquian captors confirm, contradict, or complicate the history of intolerance against indigenous people during the English colonization of eastern North America?” is very complicated. If someone were to read this with no background knowledge, the answer to that question would be it contradicts the history because the Algonquians are very nasty to their prisoners a lot of the time. However, with the background knowledge that it was Rowlandson’s people who started the war with the Algonquians, it then confirms the history. In the story the Indians kill her children, throw her bible, and say nasty things to her. Although, not every Indian she encounters treats her like dirt. When considering this question, we must not forget that her people are the ones that slaughtered the Indians first. Now they are angry and seeking revenge, so it is understandable why they treat her the way they do. We see this as well in Dryden’s play when the Indians are minding their own business and suddenly these people show up and tell them they must bow to a king they have never met. They do not just roll over to it in that play either. In Rowland’s piece, she is also very hostile to the Indigenous people because they killed her people, and I doubt the narrator is aware that her people started the war she is now prisoner of. In conclusion, I think the answer to the question is that it complicates the history of intolerance because in every war there comes a point where you are no longer fighting for some bigger cause, but rather for survival.

-Oliver Briggs

The American Holocaust? How to read Mary Rowlandson’s Captivity Narrative

For this Wednesday (2/13), students will offer an interpretation of Mary Rowlandson’s narrative that responds to theme of genocide and sexism raised in a previous student blog post: https://english102literaturesurvey.wordpress.com/2017/01/25/a-city-upon-intolerance-and-genocide/ Do moments of cross-cultural, cross-linguistic, and cross-religious exchange between Rowlandson and her native Algonquian captors confirm, contradict, or complicate the history of intolerance against indigenous people during the English colonization of eastern North America?  Explain your answer in the context of our previous readings by Dryden and Winthrop.

The posts are due next Wednesday (Feb. 13th) by 9:30am.  Please categorize your post under “The Quest for Enlightenment” and don’t forget to create specific and relevant tags.  And please include your full name so that your TA, Zakir, and I know who wrote what.