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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Narrative of the Captivity of Beverly Miranda By UC Merced As Told By Beverly Miranda

Through the grace of God, together with her willpower and perseverance (although time to time tested), the captivity and restoration by the University of California Merced of Ms. Beverly Miranda became possible. Her release marked a special time not just for her but for her loved ones as well. Her narrative and story were written by her own hand for her own keeping but now she chooses to share it among her peers on this fascinating English 102 blog, for you all to indulge in her captivity at UC Merced over the course of four years.

 

In the spring of 2015, the University Chancellor and recruits approached me with great efforts and different tactics to lure me into their grip. They came in great quantities, stopping at nothing to assure they secured my seizure. They came with shirts, posters, financial aid packages that I couldn’t resist, and ultimately they secured my captivity – but as I pressed the SIR button, I saw my freedom and peace of mind escape me. This quick and sudden gesture secured my fate for the next four years, with no knowledge of the excruciating, agonizing and intense years that would await me; with no way of escaping or liberating myself without bringing great shame to my name.

When I first arrived in August of 2015, I saw never ending landscapes, I felt the scorching sun on my back, and was amazed by the lack of buildings – I couldn’t believe Merced would strip me of my liberty. And I couldn’t believe this was the city that they promoted and glorified so heavily. Everyone looks at me like I’m an outsider, a foreigner – because I am. I don’t belong here in this institution designed and created for the elite, designed to keep me out, designed to bury me in debt. I was no longer surrounded by my fellow brown, Latino, Angelenos – the white people had taken me hostage. There were thousands of others who were taken too, who had also fallen into their deception and who also faced the same fate as I did. We were crammed into dorms four at a time in a room built for three, fed food fit for the birds, and were thrown into a system unknown to almost each of us.

I had often said before that if I were ever to be captured by a four year institution I would rather choose to be killed; but when it came to the trial my mind changed; the glittering promises that filled my spirit with hope, changed my mind to not want to end my days. All of my mother’s greatest hopes and dreams for me, lingered over my head and only then was I was able to see the light hidden in this captivity. For the next four years I would embark on an excruciating journey, a journey I would not be freed from until I fulfilled the needs of the university. In the following story to come, I shall speak on the recollection of my time spent at UC Merced and the horrid, agonizing moments I experienced during my time held captive.

 

Review:

My piece for this creative writing project was inspired by Mary Rowlandson’s “Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson.” I decided to write about my “captivity” here at UC Merced for the past four years because personally, I have felt trapped and captive at this institution during my time spent here. It has played a big part in morphing who I am now and it is a statement experience in my life. My parody was based on a very personal point of view and experience therefore, I mimicked Rowlandson’s introduction and conclusion (paragraph before the first remove) paragraphs in order to assure that the point of my piece being a “personal account” got across. Besides directly mimicking the content and style of her paragraphs, I also tried to keep the narrator’s voice alike, starting with the third person intro and followed by the first person narrative. I decided I would follow this stylistic choice from Rowlandson’s narrative because I thought it would be best to introduce that the story was detailed and retold through my personal view before directly jumping into the narrative of my experiences because it would establish the idea that the story would be told in hindsight – just like in Rowlandson’s narrative. I thought this created a similar tone between my piece and Rowlandson’s story. Another choice I had to think about when deciding how to approach my parody, was how I was going to concise a captivity narrative into 500 words. Rowlandson’s narrative had 20 removal paragraphs, as to where my narrative is made up by only four paragraphs. Therefore I decided to only imitate her introductory paragraphs, and not the actual removal ones, therefore this allowed me the freedom to capture a similar essence, and pay tribute, to the captivity narrative without surpassing the word count and introduce a story of four years in a concised, regulated manner. Overall, this assignment taught me how difficult it is to mimic another author’s work – it requires taking risks, making difficult stylistic choices, and choosing how much inspiration as an author you’re going to take and how much of the work will be your own. But it also challenged my creativity in a great sense and allowed me to explore my capability regarding parody/homage of other author’s works which would essentially teach me more about myself as a creator/writer.

Narrative of the Captivity of Yazmin Juarez

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On the first of March 2018, I fled Guatemala with mi hija, Mariee. I was twenty-years old when the domestic violence and poverty had become unbearable in my house. I understood that I needed to protect mi hija, and I knew a friend that would help me cross the border to America.

THE FIRST REMOVE

I woke up early in the morning to converge with my caravan. We traveled through the Rio Grande in a raft with a dozen others. The river was cold and the raft was crowded. Everybody had a solemn expression, holding their loved one’s tight. I held mi hija closer. The cross was difficult.

THE SECOND REMOVE

We were detained by la migra four days after our travel, and transported to the South Texas Family Residential Center. They arranged mi hija and I in a room with five other mothers and their children. The mothers were exhausted and the children were indisposed. One boy was lethargic with a constant cough, and he was denied medical treatment by la migra.

THE THIRD REMOVE

On the eleventh of March, mi hija was diagnosed with bronchitis. I begged la migra to administer her medicine, and they gave me Tylenol and honey. The next morning, mi hija had a fever. Her condition continued to deteriorate in the following four days. I became hysterical; I did not want to lose mi hija.

THE FOURTH REMOVE

La migra transferred us to New Jersey on the twenty-fifth of March. Mi hija was committed to the emergency room, where she received medical attention from los gringos; but, it was too late.

THE FIFTH REMOVE

Mi hija departed to heaven on May 10, 2018. She was nineteen months old, five months from her second birthday. She died from bronchiectasis, pneumonitis and a collapsed lung. Eight weeks after her first symptoms, she endured her miserable condition – unable to breath – without medical assistance. Three days before Mother’s Day, I departed from the hospital with a handprint of mi hija and sorrow in my heart. I questioned the inhumanness of los gringos, and an anger broke my heart. I traveled to America to protect mi hija from the violence in Guatemala; but los gringos murdered mi hija.

REVIEW

For my Creative Writing Project, I used the Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson to explore the image of the mother that has lost their child. The image of the mother emerges in numerous accounts – Beloved by Toni Morrison. I wanted to examine the image of the mother in other race, class and time periods. I decided to investigate a contemporary image of the mother, and concluded to the migrant mothers of detained children. However, I did not want to manufacture a mother, therefore, I constructed a captivity narrative based on the true story of Yazmin Juarez, a migrant mother escaping from the domestic violence in her Guatemalan home with her one year old daughter, who dies from the neglect of the ICE. The form and diction is inspired by Mary Rowlandson’s captivity narrative, using the “removes” and dates. Moreover, I incorporate the Spanish words, mi hija, la migra, and los gringos to illustrate her and her daughter and the others. After the third remove, the mother refers to la migra as los gringos after her daughter’s conditions deteriorate as a criticism to demonstrate that, her daughter died not because of the immigration officers; but because of the American people who watched complacently. Through creating my contemporary rendition of the Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson, I have demonstrated the power of the image of the mother and critiqued the present political environment of America.

A Narrative of the Captivity of Arturo Raudales

First Remove

The water’s run out. I look over as a small boy, no older than five, peeks into the empty gallon, hoping to satiate his thirst. We’ve been walking through this barren wasteland for 3 weeks? A month? I’ve lost count. Everybody in the caravan is dressed in the same neutral colors, not wanting to gather any attention from the roaming patrol cars. But our clothing isn’t the only thing that’s somber. Everybody’s expressions is disheartening. Jessica, a Salvadoran girl walks alongside Ricardo, a Honduran man, in defeat. Two nights ago our caravan was raided by the gringos, and although she managed to get away, her mother wasn’t so lucky. Everybody in this caravan has lost somebody, this is why we are walking to the states. Perhaps there, we have a chance to escape our crime-ridden countries. But the caravan’s spirit is destroyed. We’ve already lost countless people who we began the journey with. And unknown to me at the time, we were about to lose plenty more.

Second Remove

The coyote in front of us stops dead in his tracks. Soon the entire caravan comes to a halt, everybody at the ready. We’ve been through this before. Even the children know something is about to happen, all the faces in the caravan have changed from disheartened to determined. Determined to get away and not get detained. The coyote gives the cue, and everybody runs in groups of three in opposite directions. We always have to run in groups of three, and always with somebody we aren’t familiar with. This way, if we get caught, we won’t get exploited by the gringos. I run with a teenager, I think his name is Ruben, and a middle aged woman, Sara. We’ve all managed to escape before, which is why we’ve made it this far, but this time luck was not on our side. We made it half a mile from the starting point when a white Dodge Durango pulls up next to us, blaring it’s siren. We’ve been caught.

Third Remove

My face is on the floor. Dirt is lined against my cheek, and I can count the individual dirt grains as the gringo tightens his cuffs around my wrists. He forcefully picks me up, and shoves me into the back of the Durango, where I am reunited with Ruben and Sara. Sara is okay, she’s mostly shaken but that’s to be expected. The same cannot be said about Ruben. He has a gash going across his temple, evident of his resistance to the gringo’s force. I turn to him and ask him, “Estas bien?” He nods his head, indicating that he’s okay, but his expression tells me something different. He’s scared, and I wouldn’t blame him. We’ve been running away from this very moment, but now in the back of this truck all I can think about is the stories I’ve heard stories about what happens where they’re taking us. Children locked in cells, as if they were animals. Buckets of cold water splashed on unsuspecting people, and of course the fear of being deported; of starting this long and treacherous journey all over again but all we can do is let our imagination run its course.

Fourth Remove

The rooms are so bright. It’s like that moment, when you were a kid, and you were playing outside, and when your mother calls you in for dinner, it takes a while for your eyes to adjust to the lighting inside. I haven’t been inside a building in about a month, and my eyes feel the repercussion. The lights, and the white walls are the only thing that’s bright. Scattered across the room, are countless brown children locked inside cages. On the floor, next to them, are bowls of food, and water. These gringos are treating these children like animals! I feel a wave of frustration crash through me, how can people be so heartless? The gringo escorting me must feel my fists clenching, because he hits me in the back of my knees causing me to stumble. He eventually leads me to a room where they are keeping the other men, and before I even realize what is occurring, I feel a black boot on my back as I get kicked into the room, with the heavy metal door being shut behind me.

Fifth Remove

It’s hard to tell time here. Besides the occasional opening of the door ro bring new people in, or to slide food across in a metal bowls, the door stays shut. I’ve asked around, and there’s people that have been in here for three months. Why are we being held here? Why not send me back so I can start my journey again? The gringos must have caught on to our tactics, and stopped the deportations because I don’t see any hope of getting out of here. I don’t really know what else to do. We outnumber them, but they have the weapons, and besides we aren’t criminals. Most of us here embarked in this dangerous quest, to avoid criminals, the last thing we want to do is become them. Perhaps this is where it ends, I don’t really see a way of getting out. I am captive.

 

I decided to do an imitation of Mary Rowlandson’s captivity narrative. Similar to how she wrote in ‘Removes’ I also wrote the my imitation in this form. This remove, serves as a form of chapter ending, it allows me to transition into another part of the story I want to tell effortlessly. Similar to Rowlandson being captured by the native americans and her calling them “barbarous creatures”, I decided to play along with that and use the word “gringos” to describe my captives, in this case the immigration officers. In Rowlandson’s case she used the term to try and paint the Natives in a negative light, similarly to what I tried to do in my imitation. More importantly, I also choose to use a word in another language, because there were several instances in Rowlandson’s narrative, where she began to use native words like “papoose,” or “squaw” and this exemplified how she was becoming a part of the natives at some point. She was immersed into their culture that she began to use their language. In my imitation, I used a spanish word, to honor Rowlandson’s acceptance of a new culture, but in a different way. By using a spanish word, I was doing the opposite of Rowlandson, and instead stayed with the part of my other culture, rather than adapting to a new one. Overall, the imitation delivers the same message general message that she was trying to convey during her time; she was being held captive and so was I.

What has Changed?

The First Remove

 

Screams of all sorts I hear around me. My people and I continue to capture all of these people trying to enter in our land without any authorization. Who do they think they are, do they think we are weak or stupid? I hear the terrible cries from these children, trying to seek refugee in my homeland. I look at one of the captives, and they stare up at me with their tear stained cheek as if I am some “barbaric creature”. I hold weapons to show my dominance over them, and they quickly huddle in the corner continuing their loud cries. We are doing what is best for our people, our country. These people only bring problems along with them. I’m doing good.

 

Second Remove

The next day, I am sent to the southern border once again. To accomplish the same duties that is what protects my country, my main mission. From afar I see the families trying to find their way through our land. I must stop them, that is my duty. Once we detain the intruders, we immediately separate the mother from the only child that she beared with her throughout her journey. The mother fights back, but she is easily controllable, the child too. Aside from the screams and lack of fighting, we repeat the same action with other families coming in. There I take the child back to the other children who we have held captive for the greater good of our country. Their the child joins the screams of the other intruders, while I walk away and feel accomplished for the duties that I have completed.

 

Third Remove

The next morning, I walk beside the heavily wired cages, with no forms of escape. I see a few children awake. One in particular catches my attention. The young girl maybe around age 3 or 4 wearing a pink stays sniffling in the corner looking down at her wrist. I take a step closer and see that it is a golden bracelet with a cross, along with jesus attached to it. She becomes aware of my presence, and looks up to me, then back at her bracelet. This girl, I remember her from yesterday, she is the one that I seprarted from the mother. The girl looks up at me again, and I make my position clear, glaring at her showing no mercy. She is not one of us, she is different, she is not civil like my people, she is savage.

 

Fourth Remove

After going by that little girl, out of pure curiosity I decide to pay the mother a visit. After gathering information, I was able to find her whereabouts, which is by a nearby facility. Once another guard guides me to her, I noticed that she held a bible in her hand. As I stepped closer to her I heard quiet prayers from her. On her wrist was the same bracelet her daughter was wearing. Religion seems to play a vital purpose in their life. We both believe in the higher power, however we are not the same, we will never be the same. I am doing good, keeping people like her and her family from invading our country along with the bad that is brought along with them. It is my civic duty. I tuck my golden cross chain back in my uniform, and walk away.

 

Fifth Remove

After repeating my job again, I go back home to relax. I sit down on my favorite recliner, and turn on the television to keep up with the local news. When I turn on the screen there is a picture that was released by the press, that revealed the little girl that I had separated from her mother. I instantly recognized her by the clothing and the bracelet. Her picture was making headlines due to the raw emotion that she was showing, causing some of the audience to feel sympathy for her. What am I doing, am I really responsible for the terror that is showing in her eyes. I can’t feel bad though. She is not one of us, she is an illegal immigrant. Her and her people only bring crime into our homeland. She and her people are the epitome of savage.

 

Review

I decided to recreate a parody of Mary Rowlandson Narrative of the Captivity Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson. I used the same format that Rowlandson used to write her experiences. What I decided to do was recreate her story with our present situation regarding the United States immigration system. What I did was give the perspective of Rowlandson to the guard that is telling their story in the version that I created. In Rowlandson Narrative she is given the weaker position since she was the one help kept captive, but in the narrative I created I reversed the roles. It is as if I gave Rowlandson the dominant role in this narrative and the Indians the weaker role, which would be the equivalence of Rowlandson’s role in her own writing. I find these two situations very similar. In Rowlandson’s narrative although, she was the one being held captive she saw the Indians as lower than her, she never viewed them as human, because they were different from her people. This is the same situation that I put the guard in my narrative. One thing that I also think played a very crucial part in Rowlandson’s narrative was religion. Religion is what I used in my narrative to sort of create a bond between the immigrant child and the guard. Although the guard notices the similarities, he still lacks the idea of treating them with respect, or as humans. Throughout Rowlandson’s narrative we constantly see her referencing god, to keep her along the journey, which is similar to what I had the immigrant mother and daughter do. No matter what happened, the guard stuck to his american ideals that what he was doing was what was best for his people and country. Both Rowlandson and the guard are justifying their own or their people’s actions, being completely oblivious to the damage they are causing other people. Although Rowlandson becomes fascinated with aspects of their lifestyle, at the end of her captivity she still sees as the “barbaric creatures” that she did in the beginning.I tried to create a parallel between the two stories. Both had gone and experienced different cultures or lifestyles. However both fail to see that these people are the same as them. They are both heavily influenced by the social construction of race. This reveals that history is continuing to repeat itself, and that racism is still very much present in our society.

-Dariana Lara

Gulliver VS Rowlandson, a satirical battle

In Gullivers Travels Jonathan Swift, describes his captivity by the Lupatian people, although it is evident that his claims are false, Swift experiences mirror those of Mary Rowlandson. Swifts work embodies satire because his comparison of the size of people is very unrealistic and almost kind of funny. From the beginning Gulliver does something similar to what Rowlandson did he stereotypes the natives, “I perceived it to be a human creature not six inches high, with a bow and arrow in his hands, and a quiver at his back.” When Rowlandson talked about the Native people she called them savages, Gulliver on the other hand calls them “creatures” and says that they have bows and arrows. All three of these stereotypes are something that Native people are tied to in America. This in itself is pretty ironic because both writers conveyed their experience with “honesty” but even then there is blatant racism. Throughout the work Swift satirizes Rowlandson’s because it seems like he is in a sense making fun of her experience. Rowlandson had no choice in her captivity, but it seemed like with he way Gulliver was treated he was allowed to leave. Rowlandson’s entire experience overpowers or even can prove how Gulliver’s was fabricated. Swift also changes what captivity meant in our prior readings, he has power he learns about the Lupatian people and how they’re good at mathematics. He is being treated almost like a citizen despite the fact that he’s been tied up. Rowlandson and Gulliver are also very different because although she seems angry and hateful, Gulliver never seems to hate the natives, although he has show racism in instances he never seems to actually hate those people. Yes, you can say he is bias but I wouldn’t say he embodies the hate that Rowlandson had. I noticed throughout the work that Swift would also use “I” statements a lot to make the experience more personal and in turn satirizing Rowlandson’s work.

Eugenia Brumley

The “Honest” Truth

Jonathan Swift is clearly an incredible writer as well as a being really funny with his writings and satire. He pokes fun at a lot of the traveler’s telling stories that were released during his time. I believe, if we look specifically at Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels alongside Mary Rowlandson’s narrative of her captivity, we can see how Swift would be using satire to almost make fun of this specific type of writing.

Specifically looking at the second paragraph on page 33 of Gulliver’s Travels, which begins with “In the meantime, the Emperor held frequent Councils to debate what Course should be taken with me.” The page in general deals with the narrator describing the different questions and concerns the island of Lilliput might have should Gulliver stay such as “my diet would be very expensive and might cause a famine.” It brought me back to when Mary was asked by the Native Americans to come with her or they would hurt her compared to Gulliver who had councils to determine whether or not to let him stay. It’s quite interesting to note but the main difference is how Mary was forced to come and Gulliver simply arrived at the island.

But another thing that caught my eye was when Gulliver pondered how they would kill him, “…or at least to shoot me in the face and hands with poisoned arrows, which would soon dispatch me.” It’s interesting to note how Gulliver mentions this almost as a joke. How these tiny 6-inch people would have to shoot hundreds of arrows tipped with poison to dispatch of him but then would have to worry about the plague that could occur of his decaying body. While Mary’s account featured a lot of arrows being thrown at people and actually being killed. I don’t believe this is a direct link to Mary Rowland’s account but there definitely is some context of Swift using satire to poke fun and have a little humor with such accounts. Especially considering how he would say to his cousin that the accounts were true.

-Abraham Alvarez

Rowlandson and Gulliver

  • Isabel P

Satire and the Enlightenment. Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels is a satire that is essentially a critique on colonial expansion around the world and specifically was chose to poke fun of indecencies caused by the greed and accounts of such travels to new places. The relationship between Gulliver and Lilliputians people is essentially a satirical comparison to that of colonial powers and natives.

Lilliputians represents colonial powers, although they think they are strong because of their weapons specifically the arrows Gulliver is afraid of, and with Gulliver representing natives. The Lilliputians are a critic of how small colonial powers really are and Gulliver serves to be shown as a submissive character that is supposed to represent natives. The power struggling seeming to be ridiculous due to Gulliver being able to retaliate because of his size, but for some reason he is scared of small insignificant, it seems, weapons. Gulliver is letting himself be treated like this because with his size we could assume he could do whatever he wanted against these small(er) people.

The emperor, with the ridiculous way of trying to defend themselves by having a small miniature weapon (sword) on him, seems to demonstrate the naivety of colonial powers and how with this irony. A small weapon and small man against a giant, doesn’t seem right, right? This parallels Enlightenment due to the satire of the whole situation and the whole situation is separated from reason. This example when compared to Mary Rowlandson tobacco smoking is ironic. She acts as if Natives are barbaric for smoking although she has done it too her justification being her past naivety and religion. Reason not being a strong suit by both oppressive powers to demonize what they don’t know.

Rowlandson with the Natives in comparison to Lilliputians and Gulliver. Although both are animalized, and taken advantage of, for different reasons they both face the sad irony of dehumanization due to wrongful entitlement.

For example:

“I took them all in my right hand, put five of them into my coat-pocket; and as to the sixth, I made a countenance as if I would eat him alive.  The poor man squalled terribly, and the colonel and his officers were in much pain, especially when they saw me take out my penknife: but I soon put them out of fear; for, looking mildly, and immediately cutting the strings he was bound with, I set him gently on the ground, and away he ran.  I treated the rest in the same manner, taking them one by one out of my pocket; and I observed both the soldiers and people were highly delighted at this mark of my clemency, which was represented very much to my advantage at court (Part 1, Chapter 2).”

As for what is demonstrated is that Gulliver has the real power although he is being held “captive.” And in comparison to Rowlandson; she too held the real power. She, even though, she went through her towns demolition by retaliating natives, but  she ultimately had all the power because of her ties to Colonial English forces. Because ultimately the retaliation of colonial powers sadly represents the animalization, taking advantage of, and murder of natives. Especially with the spread of ideologies demonstrating the animalization of natives like how it had been done by Rowlandson.

Are You Ready to Talk About That One Time Gulliver Slept With Several Underage Giants? Great! Me Neither, but Here We Go!

In Part 2, “A Voyage to Brobdingnag”, our protagonist Gulliver delivers to his audience several explicit encounters with the maids of honor at the Brobdingnag court who attempt—and thoroughly fail—to seduce him. He states his disgust plainly here: “The maids of honor often invited Glumdalclitch to their apartments, and desired she bring me along with her, on purpose to have the pleasure of seeing and touching me. They would often strip me naked from top to toe, and lay me at full length in their bosoms; wherewith I was very much disgusted; because, to say the truth, a very offensive smell came from their skins” (127). The crux of the situation is simply this: Gulliver is naked, the maids are also naked, and Gulliver is grossly displeased at the sight and smell of them. Though he finds it unpleasant how inconsequential his presence is made to be for them, he never explicitly turns away their company. To further this, Gulliver also never outwardly confesses to having coitus with them either, very similar to the way that Mary Rowlandson fails to mention if she partook in smoking tobacco with King Philip in her captivity narrative.

Allow me to take a moment in this blog post (informal as it may be) to introduce a precursor which might add some context to the aforementioned events: at this point in the narrative, Gulliver is able to articulate himself clearly with the folk of Brobdingnag, who express a deal of concern towards his health and well-being. His wishes are often respected and understood: the dwarf who antagonized him is whipped and the girl who nurses him is allowed to continue caring for him in the royal court. This is to say that, were he entirely opposed or unwanting of the aforementioned scenes, an explicit ‘no’ or a sign negating consent would have terminated them immediately. This is a right Gulliver eventually uses, as he later requests not to visit a particular maiden who disgusted him more than the others (128). For all his objection to their physique and odor, these were not actions which occurred against his will (although his general state of captivity certainly did).

The events which took place between Gulliver and the maids of honor paralleled the mention of Mary Rowlandson’s meeting with King Philip, wherein she was offered the opportunity to smoke with him. Though she conveys her opposed inclination towards the act (just as Gulliver expresses his dislike of the Brobdingnag maids) the redaction of her choice from the narrative suggests that she may have done so, which speaks volumes about her true relationship with her captors and their culture. In this way, Swift is satirizing Gulliver’s relationship with the citizens of Brobdingnag through his interactions with each of these maids of honor, suggesting that his disgust for their appearances would not deter him from being able to form strong bonds with them, just as Mary Rowlandson manages to form a relationship with King Philip. His real relationship with the Brobdingnag people, in the state of his capture, is then deterred by the narrative in question.

-Savie Luce


Satirizing the Captive Narrative Genre

Tania De Lira-Miranda

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Irish writer Jonathan Swift satirizes the captivity narrative in his book Gulliver’s Travels. The captivity narrative is almost a genre of literature where the main character is captured by the villains of the story who the main character considers uncultured/uncivilized. More often, these villains are usually the indigenous peoples in whatever country the story is taking place. An example of this is Mary Rowlandson’s A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson where she details how she, along with other settlers of the  Massachusetts Bay Colony were taken captive by the Native Americans during King Philip’s War.  Swift’s satirization is apparent in Gulliver’s Travels‘ first chapter starting with “I lay down on the Grass…whereof I understood not one Syllable (23-25).”

The captivity narrative focuses on the power imbalance between the captive and the captor. The captive is usually someone who is on the weaker side of the power scale, as most of the well-known captivity narrative story has the captive be a woman due to the stereotype that they are dainty while her captive is usually a man due to the stereotype of them being powerful. Swift turns this trope on its head as in his novel as the captive is a man named Lemuel Gulliver while his captors are the Lilliputians, six inches tall people. While there is a power imbalance in this captive-captor relationship, Gulliver is not the captor even though he is obviously way bigger and stronger than the Lilliputians. Swift is making fun of the captive narrative by having the stronger person be the one taken captive. He also pokes fun in the genre by changing the characteristics of the natives. In the captivity narrative genre, the natives are usually ‘uncivilized’ compared to the main characters but in Gulliver’s Travels the natives are just as civilized as Gulliver as they have their own society. Swift is changing the genre by not following the usual tropes that come with it.