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9.20: Exposing Yourself Whilst Trying To Expose Others
Interestingly enough, it seems as though, while Mary Rowlandson tries to depict her encounter in an awful light (and arguably many parts of the experience are), she also seems to undermine herself much like De Las Casas does when trying to explain his own experience. While they both place themselves as the direct victim, they end up also revealing many enlightening and kind aspects of the Native Americans and, ironically, shed themselves in a more negative light whenever they then immediately go on to remind the reader what “terrible creatures” the Native Americans are in the very same breath. Rowlandson seems to depict the Native Americans as complete monsters, as she often uses animalistic and demonic traits in descriptions, such as when she writes, “Oh the roaring, the singing and dancing, and yelling of those black creatures in the night, which made the place a lively resemblance of hell” (The First Remove). First off, the term “roaring”: Rather than “shouting” or “yelling”, she chooses a word that is often evil and terrifying, attempting to signify a sort of beast in nature. Also, “those black creatures”…. Yikes. Aside from the blatant racism in those words, she pairs it with “in the night”, which subtly creates this general context and correlation of dark being evil and sinister. In case that point isn’t clear enough to the audience, she becomes more blunt in her meaning by literally describing it all as “a lively resemblance of hell”. This type of description essentially sets the tone for the rest of her writings, as she constantly refers back to this type of description of the Native Americans often. However, though her initial intention with these words is to portray her captors in a negative light, it begins to backfire. By “The Second Remove” onward, we begin to see moments of kindness and mercy amongst the Native Americans. When Rowlandson’s child is ill, one of the men carries her on a horse. They also give Rowlandson a Bible and tell her she is allowed to practice her faith, along with offering her hospitality and more food and even money for her work towards “The Eighth Remove”. Now of course other actions of the Native Americans were wrong (taking Rowlandson against her will for instance), but it exposes the Native Americans to also hold much more kindness than I presume the Colonists did to their victims. Yet, right after mentioning these acts of kindness, our author then spouts another scathing line about how these people are “heathens”. One last but notably important thing is that like in Disney’s Pocahontas” the Native Americans speak English to Rowlandson, for her–something I don’t necessarily know how to break down now. But we already see traces of erasure within the homes of the Native Americans, and this merits further discussion on how deep the roots of this erasure really are and how they began.
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