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.

Narrative of the Captivity of a Stereotype Privileged Person by a less-Privileged Person

And now I must part with what little company I had. I had parted with my BFF Tiffany (whom I never saw again till I saw her in Clovis, returned from juvenile), and from every other civil person who could afford decent highlights. Lord only knows what happened to her, sentenced to community service in Fresno with a fine. These people around me, I was nothing like them. I’d only tried to rip off a single Gucci bag from the mall. These thugs around me looked like they could beat me senseless. The animals they called guards are brutal. They’re so rude and they barely treat me like a human being. This was my second court date. I’d been in lock up due to the crowded detention centers for months. This cold, desolate place was hardly fit for someone of my stature and social standing. I’d only needed that purse because the woman at the counter had so unfairly denied my request for a discount. If she knew who I was, she would have begged for my business. In my time here, I didn’t cry a single tear. I watched as children were prodded around like cattle. Those “behavioural issues” these guards talked about were nothing but the true reactions of scared children. Most of them I’d seen grow up. The other inmates I saw had been mostly from the lower income side of Fresno. Not unlike the guards, those hooligans were animalistic themselves. Their smoke-leadened cries of desperation were pathetic. If it had been up to me, I would have sentenced them to the fullest form of punishment. Anything from shoplifting chips to armed robbery would have a life sentence from me. Anything to keep that riff-raff from growing into a full-blown criminal.

I don’t belong here. This cruel injustice, being mixed with people who couldn’t afford to breathe in the same school ground as I walk on from day to day, it is unacceptable. As soon as my parents return to the country, I will be released into their custody and they will find a way to fix all of this. No amount of therapy will ever be enough to cleanse the thoughts of these horrible people. How dare they silence me, an American citizen. I have god-given rights to this country. How could they lump me with the trash that pollutes our nation? My family has been on the top of many food chains for generations? Can half of the people in this hellish place claim that? I doubt half of them even speak the language, let alone possess the ability or knowledge to speak of their worth. Which, if I did say so myself, was not much. I felt pity for those who had potential to be greater simply based on their heritage. They wasted their potential. Now, like those people who lived from welfare check to welfare check, they rotted in here. All I could think of was how sweet it would be to be rid of myself from this awful place. I didn’t belong here. It was only a matter of time before they saw how unjust I was being treated. I was there for seven days.

——————————-

I chose to parody The Fourth Remove of Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mary Rowlandson by Mary Rowlandson. I thought it would be interesting to take a concept of someone who was dramatizing such a horrible experience but twist it to victimize herself completely. In this parody I greatly emphasized the nature of someone who was far more privileged than perhaps most of the people in my community as a whole or even the community (Clovis) that I chose reference. The satirical emphasis on the degradation of lower socioeconomic position was an aesthetic choice showing that even when the “victim” was clearly at fault, much like the settlers of Rowlandson’s time, they could still set themselves above the rest. Though I preserved the proper and “high-class” tone of Rowlandson’s piece, I chose not to choose religion as the narrator’s salvation but rather social class. I wanted to sneak in subtle hints of just how privileged this girl was, not just in wealth but in social aspects as well. Her parents are clearly wealthy, having been travelling outside of the country presumably for leisure or even business and foreign business trips are often the results of a high-paying career in general. I think most people agreed, within the class as well as amongst historical writers such as William Apess (who wrote his own parody piece), Rowlandson was making a very biased judgement of the natives of her time based on her religion and her race. Even though her people were technically the invaders of that land, they saw the property as their own and the inhabitants as pests and animals. I chose to parody this frame of mind by mimicking the animal analogies as well as casting a light on how she turned a merciful eye on those kids (presumably younger students) who were in the narrator’s social circle. I specifically made a casual mention of therapy in the narrator’s speech to further separate her from the other (minorities? Lower income kids?) inmates who no-doubt felt fear to some extent or even had no remorse but nonetheless would probably never have the opportunity to receive proper counseling.

-Asia Reyna

Robbing Blind Cripples to Pay Starving Children

Among the most austere of their respective collections – be that the collection of Coleridge and Wordsworth’s Lyrical Ballads or the choices of painting presented to the class for this assignment – Andrew Jones by Williams Wordsworth and Caspar David Friedrich’s The Monk by the Sea both portray narratives that are – on their seven-stanza and washed-blue gray faces – rudimentary yet, when analyzed deeper, profound in commentary on the psychological concepts of perspective and projection. The Monk by the Sea is seemingly focused on the eponymous monk; he stands alone, facing the ocean, apparently in deep contemplation. A soft light prevails at the paintings top but, as the ocean is neared, the horizon grows darker and darker. Whether a storm is brewing or whether it is simply the shadows off the ocean – whether the monk is vanguard against the darkness or whether that darkness is representative of the monk’s troubled thoughts – is left to the viewers interpretation. The relative lightness of the sand under the monk’s feet could support the assertion that the monk is standing steadfast – or it’s contrast to the sea’s darkness could be a commentary on the randomness of nature. It doesn’t actually matter as there is no objective interpretation – or, more accurately, no viewer’s perspective on the painting is more correct than another viewers – and there is no doubt that a Romantic painter would agree with such an assertion.

            A Romantic poet would be equally hard-pressed to claim that one perspective is more valid than another’s. Invested in the liberation of their minds from a harsh society’s preconceptions of value, the Romantic poets – Wordsworth, author of Andrew Jones, among them – would agree that the mere words on a page – or the simple colors of a painting – are conduits demanding a reader – or viewer’s – interjection. Andrew Jones, for instance, seems a straightforward tale of how Andrew Jones filches a beggar Cripple’s strawpenny. A second reading, however, might leave the reader questioning the accuracy of the purported tale. First the narrator is neither Andrew Jones, the Cripple, or the Horseman who throws the penny to the ground – rather, the narrator is both unnamed and undescribed; a faceless, background-less “I” whose only thoughts outside the direct actions of his story are “He’ll (Jones) breed his children up to waste and pillage.” Remember that the narrator’s ire for Jones is not inspired by Jones’ “swear and tipple” habits but, instead, is drawn from the events to follow; the narrator, therefore, is deriving his perceptions on not only Jones as a parent – but also the potentially unborn children of Jones – off this single incident. While a swearing degenerate who steals pennies from beggars might not inspire a positive perception of parenting skills from the poem’s reader, the narrator’s perception of Jones might, in fact, be corrupting the rest of the work.

“Under half-a-crown,” Andrew Jones is purported to have told the beggar as they pleaded for the penny, “What a man finds is all his own, And so, my friend, good day to you.” Given that the narrator began the poem by applying a negative connotation to Jones, the reader is expected to understand the implication that Jones’ words are dismissive and, after speaking them, he turns from the beggar and marches off with the penny. However, if the reader applies the same interpretive logic to this poem as they do The Monk by the Sea – in terms of questioning the artistically painted turmoil, or lack there-of, of the lone monk’s thoughts – then the reader might begin to question why, if the narrative is so intense and verbose in his hatred of Jones, that the narrator neglects to explicitly mention Jones’ handling of the penny. Suppose that the narrator is, in fact, another beggar. Suppose that the penny, then, was thrown to both the cripple and the narrator. Jones, walking along merrily and by totally innocent happenstance, becomes the arbiter of the penny’s fate; he must decide whether the Cripple or the narrator should receive the penny. Perhaps Jones then stuck to a deeply engrained moral code – based off who originally saw, or “found,” and therefore claimed, the penny – and gave the penny to the well-deserving Cripple to the chagrin of the narrator-beggar. Or maybe Jones did, in fact, walk away with the penny. Yet Wordsworth, in a previous line, describes the recent weather as “droughty.” If Jones does in fact have children, and if there is in fact a drought, perhaps Jones truly needs that penny. Perhaps his family is suffering from the droughts and – given that there is no physical description of Jones – perhaps Jones is in an even worse state than the Cripple. Perhaps his children are starving, or are dehydrated, and perhaps that penny is the only thing that Jones can find to provide for his family. When Jones spouts off his justification for taking the penny, perhaps it is a thinly-veiled attempted to hide his grief over what his circumstances have driven him to. Further, with all of Jones’ purported immorality, it is curious that he deigns to call the Cripple – who the narrator himself had described as a “friendless Man” – “friend” when he takes – or doesn’t take – the penny. Why would Jones – who to the narrator seems the height of arrogance and well deserving of a “press-gang” to “sweep him from the village” – show such familiarity to a crippled beggar who he is robbing? The lack of objective description around the events is revealing in itself – and it is startingly revealing of a narrator whose bias throws off the entire narrative’s legitimacy.

If a visual piece of media, such as a painting, can have it’s apparent narrative and inherent meaning derived from the literal eyes-based perspective of a viewer, there is nothing stopping a poem’s meaning and events from being defined entirely by the mental perspective of a reader. No reader – or purveyor’s – interpretation of a piece of art is more accurate or legitimate than anybody else’s, and the impossible – and far-reachingly implicit – connection between Wordsworth’s Andrew Jones and Friedrich’s The Monk by the Sea is proof of that.

  • Ian Sterns

The Good Christian

This captivity narrative is a true inside look into the horrors of slavery. In this narrative, Olaudah Equiano integrates quotes from many famous English works and the Bible. When he quotes a famous English work, he picks a certain section of that work that was meant to be applied to all men equally, but is not being taken seriously by society. In the first chapter, he uses this quote from the bible:

“who hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth[K]; and whose wisdom is not our wisdom, neither are our ways his ways”

This quotation is referencing when God created man. When God created humanity, he created them ALL in his image. This quote says that even though he did that, he left humans on this earth trusting them to act morally in his image. However, Equiano is using this quote to point out that humanity is failing at that right now. He is using the faith of his targeted readers to garner their sympathy and force them to open their eyes and take a look into their faulted societies. He knows that during this time period, a lot of laws and the structure of society itself are based on the moral teachings of their religion. In this passage, he points out an area of the Bible and basically says “what about this teaching?” This teaching of the Bible is very important because God gave his children the freedom of will and he expects them to act in his image. Equiano points out that God would never partake or support such a cruel practice as slavery. So, why are the people who pride themselves on their good Christian values participating in a practice that is basically the devil’s work.

-Oliver Briggs

In God’s Eyes, We are the Same

Olaudah Equiano’s The Interesting Narrative definitely has many references to biblical scripture throughout his narrative as a form of relative content that could be presented to his intended audience. I think he decides to use this type of language because at the time that he was writing this, religion—specifically Christianity was at its forefront. Almost everything people did revolved around religion and faith. And because Equiano wanted people to read his book in order to understand what was so bad about slavery, religion became one easy way to have access to a specific audience. Even the idea of him having theological textual references in his narrative meant that he wanted the world to know that he was educated and that he wanted himself to be considered an equal to the white man. One of the many quotes that caught my attention was:

“Oh Jove! O father! if it be thy will

That we must perish, we thy will obey,

But let us perish by the light of day.”

This quote definitely reminds me of the Luke 23:34 verse in the bible where Jesus is being crucified and he says in exasperation, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  They both cry out to a father who is not physically present to them but is there spiritually. And I think through this quote, Equiano’s intended audience would have definitely been able to relate to him and be more sympathetic to the wrongdoings that had been committed not only against him but his entire race. Equiano uses religion as a tool to emphasis that he is the same as the white man—he is well educated, he is well travelled (regardless of how he has travelled), and also well mannered. To use these kinds of references in his narrative I’m sure encouraged people who read his narrative adapt his point of view regarding his people’s enslavement.

-Laura Mateo Gallegos

-No peace is given

—— No peace is given

To us enslav’d, but custody severe;

And stripes and aribtary punishment

Inflicted– What peace can we return?

But to our power, hostility and hate;

Untam’d reluctance, and revenge, though slow.

Yet ever plotting how the conqueror least

May reap his conquest, and may least rejoice

In doing what we most in suffering feel                     – Milton, Paradise Lost, 2.232-40

Olaudah Equiano published his autobiography, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, which included this quotation, among many other great English works. After buying his freedom, Equiano dedicated his life to the abolitionist movement in-order to stop the horrors he once faced. His autobiography is littered with references to great works, here is one.

Prior to quoting Milton, Equiano talks about the grave nature of torturing slaves. His mind can’t come to bear what kind of mindset it takes to punish another human like that. “And are ye not struck with shame and mortification, to see the partakers of your nature reduced so low? “ (103). Here in this, Equiano is hoping to reach his audience (in particular potential slave owners) and hoping to strike a chord. To plead with rationality, to not give into humans primordial instinct, but to be better than that. Equiano quotes Milton in order to communicate this feeling, of toxicity that the enslaved receive, and the slaver rejoices.

Equiano quotes many great works in his Narrative to give himself credibility, in-order to place him among the great works. Anyone that is enlightened to read a former-slaves autobiography, most likely knows about Homer, Milton, etc. Equiano hopes to captivate his audience, and wants them to extend an olive branch and cease all slavery oppression. As Thomas de Quincey talked about Literature of Power, Equiano wanted his work to be powerful as well. Now a powerful historic piece, The Interesting Narrative was in-depth look into the life of a former slave that English literature needed

-Robert Morales

 

Oh NO, Not The Night

Throughout his narrative, titles as The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Equiano is forced to endure many hardships, which he reflects upon through many forms of writings by quoting parts of book that he had read, including but not limited to; the Bible, John Milton, and Colley Cibber. The one part in Equiano’s narrative that caught my attention instantly while reading it can be found on page 51 in the writing, with a quote from John Denham’s novel Cooper’s Hill, as he says;

“Thus I was like a hunted deer:

‘Ev’ry leaf and ev’ry whisp’ring breath

Convey’d a foe, and ev’ry foe a death.'”

In this part of the narrative, the reader is able to envision Equiano fearing his master and the punishment to come once he is to be found after “running back home” from them. This unbridled terror can be found as he explains in detail how every sound made him still, and “abandoned [him]self to despair” as night began to approach. (Equiano 51). Equaino is using these words in order to draw a conclusion towards what may be his death; or, at least, his symbolic death from fear over his master. When Equiano returns, he is quickly treated to before sold once more, now not seeming to fear the ones who were free, but learning from them until he himself could receive that same human right.

The reason why Equiano uses so many different kinds of texts throughout his narrative is because he wants to show his audience that he is educated, and can be trusted by his fellow men as an intelligent man. By quoting from the Bible, Equiano convinces his audience that he is a devote Christian, meaning that he, a man so holy and devoted to the Bible, could do no wrong! Just as any other Christian! (Please, note my sarcasm. I’m begging you.)

– Jody Omlin

Daybook

This novel can be foreseen and represented as a daybook, in which this first person narrative is being told off of observations, much like that of Rowlandson’s. Though in Rowlandson’s readers are given solid observations and often individual thoughts and emotions were not included. This technique tended to illustrate the stories context in a complicated way. Swift often mimicked this complex way of telling the story in order to illustrate the scandalous, mythical setting, written in a sort of monotone/non emotional piece that is presented to us today. “This diversion is only practiced by those persons who are candidates for great employments, and high favour at court. They are trained in this art from their youth, and are not always of noble birth, or liberal education.” (Swift 38). The beginning of Chapter 3 starts with him ridiculing the government within the country, as well as the observations displayed of the poor. Further into reading we are presented how people often do whatever it takes to take the position of the a fallen member in office.

People during this time bent over backwards to hold a job position with the country’s government. When a great office is vacant, either by death or disgrace (which often happens,) five or six of those candidates petition the emperor to entertain his majesty and the court with a dance on the rope; and whoever jumps the highest, without falling, succeeds in the office.” (Swift 38). The narration of the novel tend to particularly be taken as impartial. In Rowlandson’s narrative we saw the conversation she had while she debated on leaving the corpse of one of her children. This specific moment was viewed as non-emotional as Rowlandson treated leaving the body of her deceased son as a chore she desperately needed to cross off. Though Swift’s narrative lacks emotion, many could assume that he creates this sense of irony in the process. Both stories share some similarities especially when it comes to representing certain events as observations that hold no emotional value.

The Big What-If

Swift’s take on captive narrative is a great answer to Rowlandson’s piece. When you think about how the six-inch-tall natives are the captors of the ‘giant’, it makes you think about the sheer outgunning of settlers and Native Americans. It was how Rowlandson’s people would have seen themselves. As the victims, even if they were clearly a larger fighting force. Where our hero, Gulliver, has a much better outcome in this satiric work, you can tell there are parallels. First of all, the use of ‘indigenous people’ and ‘natives’ stands out because it is repeated several times, much like the work of Rowlandson. This is done in a slightly different way and of less disgust but it stands out to parody Rowlandson’s captivity narrative. Ironically, one may expect the larger of the people to be the captors. This may reflect how the colonists viewed themselves compared to the Native people; as giants. I think an interesting trope that Swift decided to play on was the lack of poor treatment for the captive. Once Gulliver shows submission, they treat him well, even if he is their prisoner. The symbol, I believe, of the wine and meal is to show an almost biblical reference of breaking bread and drinking the blood of Christ. It is a sign of alliance and peace. If spun correctly, this passage, in isolation, can be seen as a ‘what-if’ to history. What if the colonists had not ruled by force and genocide? Something very interesting to note is the absence of the ‘savages’ trope. Gulliver’s captors are not rowdy, savage, wild people. Rather, they are mathematicians, mechanics, and brew wine, along with possessing a  formal army. Furthermore, he does not insult the people for their stature, which could be extended to their appearance. Unlike Rowlandson who condemns the native people for their appearance and differing culture, Gulliver focuses on the avoidance of criticizing and insulting the people of Lilliput.

-Asia Reyna

Enlightenment of the Dark Text.

 

In Chapter 1, part 1 of Gulliver’s travels, Gulliver finds himself washed aboard an island. When he wakes up, he finds himself tied down to the floor. “I had the Fortune to break the Strings and wrench out the Pegs that fastened my left Arm to the Ground” (24) He then meets the 6-inch-tall “human creature” that speaks to him in a foreign language, and he realizes that he is held in captivity. Which is kind of ironic, he is a giant to these creatures, he shouldn’t be held captive to them. Gulliver has the brute force to not be captive but chooses to morally right and try to reason with the seemingly hostile creatures. He communicates with the Emperor, and even praises the little people for their knowledge in mathematics.

This should be eerily similar, and it would point to Mary Rowlandson’s “In captivity” writing. Jonathan Swift is obviously poking fun at previous works, especially Rowlandson, at their close-mindedness. Rowlandson at first has a hatred for her Indian captors and isn’t till the very end that she only starts to see them as human as herself. She especially takes a liking towards King Phillip (the emperor) and learns what some words are. Except that she must remind herself that they are not Christian, and therefore ruthless savages. Gulliver from the start recognizes that the Lilliputians are humans, just on a smaller scale. He feels as an obligation to have the higher moral ground and attempt to reason/converse with them. Even though their first action was to tie him up and attack him with arrows. Gulliver instead of breeding negative thoughts, gave the Lilliputians the benefit of the doubt and got rewarded for it. Even though he was still a prisoner, he was well fed, and his wound were treated, as well has his bounds loosened up.

Swift is a master of satire whose social commentary goes beyond initial face value.

 

  • Robert Morales