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.

A Hit to Rowlandson

In part 1 chapter 4 (online version, I know I didn’t listened to you J) when it starts with “But I shall not anticipate the reader with further descriptions of this kind, because…” The way he starts the paragraph feels like he is telling us what he is planning to do with the information gathered. When he does we are completely thinking of Mary Rowlandson’s captivity as he mentions that the description of the empire and people will be revealed through the press. As we mentioned in class we got to see Rowlandson perspective towards the Native American that captured her and how she resided with them. However, Swift mocks this part of her captivity because even though she mentions some sort of “good” aspects and certain details about the Native American characteristics and culture of some sort we don’t get enough. In this paragraph though Gulliver who is the one talking literally states what he saw, learned and understood of the empire during his nine-month stay, “from its first erection, through a long series of princes; with a particular account of their wars and politics, laws, learning, and religion; their plants and animals; their peculiar manners and customs, with other matters very curious and useful (50 O.V) The irony that we see in this passage is that meanwhile, Rowlandson talked about her stay with the Natives only as a captivity, in this paragraph we see that Gulliver does not mentions it as such thing. In fact, he says it in a way that makes it seems as if it is his choice to “residence” there. I feel like the way he talks (pacifically) in a way is stating that a captivity couldn’t have been as bad and that Rowlandson did not really tell us the truth.  

  • Hermelinda Ralac

These Strangers Like Me

Being people of habits we do not fail to look and compare that which we know to what we do not know. We judge and want to intervene, but it is hard to make a stand when you are, in a sense. someone’s prisoner. We can see Gulliver judge and compare his fellow captors lifestyle to his own in Part One, Chapter Six (VI) where we watch Gulliver comment on their laws and how they were very like his own. Not just that, but like Rowlandson, Gulliver is placed in a scenario where he is having dinner with the majesty. Both captives are sitting with their captors having a formal dinner, which is odd considering the situation but at the same time, this showed both Rowlandson and Gulliver that their captors are not much different from them. This dinner scene, although is very like Rowlandson, only reiterates the idea that despite the fact that their captors have them with limited freedom, they are not treated inhumanly, and not just that but that they are viewed by their captors by something much more than just mere prisoners. Although both Gulliver and Rowlandson are poking and comparing the way their captors are to the way in which they live their way of life, both basically saying they are like me but not like me, Rowlandson took it in her hands to still consider them in a way, less than her. Through this scene, Swift uses his craft to not only mimic Rowlandson’s dinner scene, but to show how there are strangers like us who if perhaps we took a damn minute to really analyze and try to understand them we could see they are not much different than we would like to pin them down to be.

A Test of Strength

Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift satirizes a variety of topics, applying a comedic tone to his false narrative. In many ways, Swift’s novel takes popular elements from the captivity narrative. Although Swift forgoes the redemption by faith, they are several passages which appear to mimic the style and content that would have been seen in famous captivity narratives like Mary Rowlandson’s story of captivity by the Algonquians. One such instance, albeit significantly more boorish, is the scene is which Gulliver must relieve himself:

The best expedient I could think of, was to creep into my house, which I accordingly did; and shutting the gate after me, I went as far as the length of my chain would suffer, and discharged my body of that uneasy load.  But this was the only time I was ever guilty of so uncleanly an action; for which I cannot but hope the candid reader will give some allowance, after he has maturely and impartially considered my case, and the distress I was in…I would not have dwelt so long upon a circumstance that, perhaps, at first sight, may appear not very momentous, if I had not thought it necessary to justify my character, in point of cleanliness, to the world; which, I am told, some of my maligners have been pleased, upon this and other occasions, to call in question.

In this crass scene, Gulliver describes how he unburdens himself with much humiliation. In this moment, he suspends the fourth-wall to address the reader directly to justify himself and make a case for including it in the narrative. Readers that know Mary Rowlandson’s narrative, may notice a similarity between the rhetoric employed in the scene between her and King Phillip in which he offers her a “stinking tobacco pipe”. During that scene, Rowlandson writes about the offer in a roundabout way and takes the opportunity to convince her readers that she is too civilized to smoke from the pipe she was once fond of in her youth: “I thank God, He has now given me power over it; surely there are many who may be better employed than to lie sucking on a stinking tobacco-pipe”. Rowlandson includes this to exert her superiority and buttress her character as a Christian woman. Similarly, Gulliver feels the need to write that “I would not have dwelt so long upon a circumstance…if I had not thought it necessary to justify my character…to the world; which I am told, some of my maligners…call in question”. Like Rowlandson, who would have been under the scrutiny of readers looking checking for hallmarks of a good Puritan woman, Gulliver satirizes this issue more pointedly, addressing critics as “maligners”.

This instance of justifying character, while meant to be a moment of tension calling into question the strength of the faith of the author is satirized into a strength of “cleanliness” (as evidenced by the life “necessary to justify my character, in point of cleanliness”). While not directly acting as a parody to Rowlandson’s narrative, it is clear that Swift is attempting to mock and imitate using base humor to play off the novel’s serious tone. The manner in which how seriously Gulliver writes his travels too is an additional point of mimicry, and combined with the outlandish content of the novel, makes for a hilarious and witty satirical novel.

-Sara Nuila-Chae

A Match Made in… Well, A Match Made.

In the novel “Gulliver’s Travels”, Jonathan Swift satirizes Rowlandson’s captivity narrative very heavily, which can be seen right at the start in Part One, Chapter One. When Gulliver is first fund by the people of Lilliput, he is tied down and unable to move. When waking up to this discovery, he is “in the utmost Astonishment, and roared so loud, that they all ran back in a Fright” (Swift 23). Of course, Gulliver is confused and upset with being unable to move, and he automatically struggles from his capture for freedom. In return, the people of Lilliput shoot arrows into his body, which he does not feel, and his hand, which “pricked me like so many needles” (Swift 24). This is the first and last time that Gulliver is harmed by his capturers, similar to Rowlandson’s captivity narrative, with “the bullets flying thick, one went through [her] side” (Rowlandson 8). Despite being tied down and taken as a prisoner, however, Gulliver is still treated very well, and is given food and wine. Rowlandson had been treated similarly; after being captured, she was never harmed again, was given food, and was even paid to make clothes for some of the “savages” who captured her. The only notable difference between Gulliver and Rowlandson is the idea that Gulliver wished to harm the people of Lilliput after being fed, when he imagines that he could “seize Forty or Fifty of the first that came in my reach, and dash them against the Ground” (Swift 26). Also, while Gulliver thought of the people of Lilliput as decent creatures, Rowlandson continued to see her capturers as only mere savages, monsters who took her from her home with no reason to do so.

– Jody Omlin

Perfection? I Think Not

Swift is masterful in his method of satirizing different literary conventions because without paying close attention to what he is doing you are likely to miss what is actually happening. Throughout Gulliver’s Travels he is constantly challenging the conventional travel narrative, captivity narrative and Utopian fiction.  His use of absurd descriptions is very good at distracting the reader while simultaneously enabling him to prove his point about those ridiculous conventions.

In Part 1, “A Voyage to Lilliput.” there is a passage that describes how he is transported and the efforts it takes to move him from where he is found to where he needs to go. This whole passage calls into question conventions of Utopian fiction and the captivity narrative all at once:

“These People are most excellent Mathematicians, and arrived to a great Perfection in Mechanics by countenance and encouragement from the Emperor, who is a renowned Patron of Learning. This Prince hath several Machines fixed on Wheels for the Carriage of Trees and other great Weights. He often builds his largest Men of War, whereof some are nine foot long, in the Woods where the Timber grows, and has them carried on these Engines three or four hundred Yards to the Sea. Five Hundred Carpenters and Engineers were immediately set at work to prepare the greatest Engine they had…But the principal Difficulty was to raise and place me in this Vehicle. Eighty poles, each one of one Foot high, were erected for this purpose, and very strong Cords of the bigness of Packthread were fastened by Hooks to many bandages, which the Workmen had girt around my Neck, my Hands, my Body, and my Legs. Nine Hundred of the strongest Men were employed to draw up there cordsby many pulleys fastened on the Poles, and thus in less than three Hours, I was raised and slung onto the Engine, and there tied fast. All this I was told, for while the whole Operation was performing, I lay in a profound sleep, by the force of that soporiferous Medicine infused in my Liquor. Fifteen Hundred of the Emperor’s largest Horses, each about four inches and a half high, were employed to draw me towards the Metropolis, which, as I said, was half a mile distant.” (Swift 28)

For a Utopian society that has experts mathematicians and engineers who are patronized by the monarchy itself, there seems to be a lot of struggle with getting Gulliver to move just a half mile. Of course there is a very big size difference but despite that there is almost an expectation that these people would be far more advanced than they actually because they spend their time honing their crafts. This speaks to Bacon’s ideas of Utopian societies that focus on science and math as a way of perfecting humanity. Instead these mathematicians and engineers can only come up with the solution to drug Gulliver and drag him half a mile on a rather basic pulley system. Certainly if that’s the best they can do then they are no real threat to the English that will follow in Gulliver’s footsteps after reading his narrative.

As for the captivity narrative, hardly at any point does Gulliver feel like he is actually being held hostage. It always seems as if he is humoring the Lilliputians with everything they do to him. Sure, they drug him to take him away to their Metropolis but if he had truly been opposed he could have easily gotten away from them without having to try too hard. He simply could’ve walked away and the fact he chooses not to is at odds with the idea of the captivity narrative itself which is to be held hostage by native peoples and forced to endure hardships at their hands. Mary Rowlandson’s narrative doesn’t suggest she could’ve easily just upped and walked away at any given point. She makes it a point in her writing to actually make it seem like she not easily go anywhere but Swift destroys that essential part of the captivity narrative with this passage because Gulliver could have easily freed himself at any time but doesn’t. If anything he allows himself to be drugged and taken to the Metropolis.

There is a lack of concern on Gulliver’s part as he recounts this part of the tale that suggests he was never bothered by any of these events. There is no tension and obviously clear hate for the natives in this passage unlike those of Rowlandson. He calmly is willing to describe the situation. Furthermore, there seems to also be missing a sense of true awe on Gulliver’s part that they had to go to all these lengths to get him where they needed him to be. Instead there is almost a nonchalance to the description that practically screams “well it just happened to be that way” because he is never angered by any of it and if anything is amused by the efforts of the Lilliputians.

By Diana Lara





Let’s Revisit the Definition of “Captive”

Throughout Part 1  of Gulliver’s Travels, Swift seems to make fun of Mary Rowlandson’s captivity narrative. From the very beginning, when he wakes up in the grass of Lilliput, he says “I thought it the most prudent to lie still…I could easily free myself: and as for the inhabitants, I had reason to believe I might be a match for the greatest armies they could bring against me” (24). It is fairly obvious that he if he truly wanted to, he could easily free himself, and “defeat” his enemies, with a mere flick of a wrist. Yet he decides not to, and cooperates with his captors.


This is very similar to Rowlandson’s captivity narrative because as her story continues, we catch a glimpse of her captors treating her with kindness and respect. Particularly the scene when King Philip offers her the tobacco pipe. Gulliver was also treated with respect and kindness by his “captors”, and he was offered an immense amount of food, a place to sleep, and even personal tutors to teach him the native language. Throughout Part 1, Gulliver mentions words in the native tongue of Lilliput, similarly to how Rowlandson said several words in the tongue of the native americans. This small act, shows that despite both of them considering themselves “captives”, they really aren’t and are actually better represented as guests.

Swift’s intention was to make fun of the genre as a whole but also Rowlandson herself. Both Gulliver and Rowlandson, in their respective stories, could have been treated in a much more crueler way, yet they weren’t, so can we really consider them to be captives? Food for thought.

-Arturo Raudales



When you Pay Attention in Hatton’s Class and then Write a Blog Post that Night

First, thank you Nigel Hatton. As always, whenever I am stumped, all I ever have to do is look at my notes.

It is unlikely that a force much greater than yourself should appear, but in the event that it does, one would like (and hope) that this hypothetical monster is at the very least friendly. But how might a person identify themselves as friendly if there is not an other that exists to reaffirm your own beliefs? Everyone would like to think themselves to be the mighty protagonist, the undeniable hero that ultimately achieves glory, admiration, and a legacy that is favorable. Yet this cannot always be the case. The duality of knowing one another, oneself as the self, and another as the other is none other than a friend versus a stranger. To see this in the context of our class, one must not look any further than our most talked about text in the past two weeks in Rowlandson and the one currently being read, Gulliver’s Travels.

The one coming to a new land and the one who was already there creates a tension like no other. On one hand, someone or some people have made this land their home, their children run there, their friends are next door, and they are immersed in their community. On the other hand, those coming are large in numbers, have modern technology, are powerful, and have their best interests in mind. I look at Gulliver’s Travels as this, two strangers, the Lilliputians and Gulliver, untrusting, unaware of either’s existence until fate would bring the two together. In this case, it is extremely unlikely that Gulliver should find himself at the mercy of those the size of his finger, but equally as strange, the country of Lilliput could have never guessed they would encounter a man of this extreme size. Just like the colonizers to invade this “new world”, those already there had no idea of their existence or intentions. I could imagine how frightening that unknown was, and the questions that followed, but none more basic than where did they come from? On the fictional side of Gulliver, this question is hilariously answered as:

“For as to what we have heard you affirm, that there are other Kingdoms and States in the World, inhabited by human Creatures as large as yourself, our philosophers are in much doubt, and would rather conjecture that you dropped from the Moon, or one of the Stars; because it is certain, that an hundred Mortals of your Bulk would, in a short time, destroy all the fruits and Cattle of his Majesty’s Dominions” (47-48).

I tie this directly to what Rowlandson represented to the Algonquians that captured her. Though, obviously they were aware of the English at this point, it is a justified question to ask how could a group of people go around the world taking what is not theirs, being wasteful, destroying life, and creating a damning self-identity that would be looked upon unfavorably in a time such as ours today? How could we have many colonial powers doing this? This seems much more like a warning than a question as I read the last line of the quote again and again.

Though I do not believe that Gulliver came from outer space, in fact, I know he did not, but the point is clear. The real answer is directly given, but still represents an unknown to the country of Lilliput. They have never seen the lands Gulliver talks about. They probably never will. Now, I cannot relieve tensions of two unknowns, but I can answer how this satirical travel log breaks the barrier of stranger and friend. This actually is not all that strange of an answer because as surprising as it may sound, the very answer is also seen in Rowlandson’s narrative. Though initially strangers, Gulliver is awarded hospitality. They integrate him into their society, offer him their resources, honors, and teach him their culture. This becomes a relationship of commonality and mimesis; Gulliver finding himself one with Lilliput, striving for ubuntu, not vengeance. This, too, is seen in Rowlandson. She too becomes immersed in the Algonquian culture, works for a small wage, and goes as far as smoking with King Philip. Therefore, I argue that this scene and overall, this first stop in Gulliver’s Travels mirrors Rowlandson’s capture narrative and the overarching narrative of colonial England towards the native tribes they displaced. And, at the very least, to my amusement, Gulliver’s Travels makes the situation far more enjoyable and humorous.

—Joseph Michael Rojas

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

Swift, Rowlandson and The Creature

In part one, chapter one of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, Swift satirizes Mary Rowlandson’s captivity narrative. He was “struggling to get loose… which gave [him] excessive pain” (24). Like Rowlandson, Gulliver has found himself being held captive by foreigners, he is bound with ropes and pegs and had “an hundred arrows discharged on [his] left hand” (24). Gulliver has “thought it most prudent Method to lie still” only after doing so “an hundred of the Inhabitants mounted, and walked towards [his] Mouth, laden with Baskets full of Meat” and “slung up with great Dexterity one of their largest Hogsheads [that] tasted like a small Wine” (24, 25, 26). Though being held captive Gulliver is continuously getting copious amounts of food, like Rowlandson who was also harmed during her captivity and fed by her captors, even given money to “run errands” for them. Rowlandson is never harmed again after being captured but used for work whereas Gulliver gets harmed after being captured and takes advantage of the mounts of food he can get. Gulliver wanted “to seize Forty or Fifty of [them] that came into [his] reach, and dash them against the Ground” unlike Rowlandson who never considered harming her captors (26). Like Rowlandson, Swift included native words such as, “Langro Debul san (these Words and the former were afterwards repeated and explained to me)” (25). When reading this section of A Voyage to Lilliput Gulliver doesn’t only remind me of Rowlandson, he reminds me of the creature in Mary Shelley’s Frankensteinin the way he learned to acquire the language of the natives. It also realtes to how the creature was too held in captivity by Victor. All three were held captive, but only Rowlandson and Gulliver were shown some form of hospitality by their captors demonstrated through the above actions stated. The resemblances between Rowlandson and Swift is continuous throughout the novel, but is most predominant in this passage.

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– Alina Cantero