The Conquests of Latin America: Elements That Played A Role Essay

The Conquests of Latin America: Elements That Played A Role Essay

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The destruction of entire people is often overlooked, due to the important fact that it is usually the victor that writes the history books and the facts to be. In Alex Nava’s Wonder and Exile, in the New World adventurers of many backgrounds such as Cabeza de Vaca and Bartolome Las Casas, help to develop three important concepts within the cultural, religious, and literary representations of modern day Latin America. Over a span of 500 years Nava’s three concepts of wonder, exile, and deprivation are shown to have an importance in the shape and further development of the Americas and its Native peoples.
The first chapter focusses heavily on the different concepts of wonder and the mysteries that surround such a notion. Wonder itself is not simply something for one culture, or one individual rather it is a universal concept that is observed in many different ways. In fact, Nava hints early in the chapter that wonder can actually be used as a type of communication, “wonder is always a form of communication, but it reaches for what is unsayable over what can be said” (pg. 13). In fact, Nava even mentions that wonder can go beyond being just a form of communication as well, “It is an experience...something so novel and strange that it overwhelms and dazzles the most familiar categories of human knowledge and understanding” (pg. 13). These conceptions of wonder are not something new to the human race. Rather it has been studied for hundreds of years, probably most notably by Descartes of the enlightenment era. Descartes had different views on the concept of wonder and proclaimed that wonder can be fearful as well as delightful and that it, “prevents or perverts the use of reason and thwarts the acquisition of knowledge” (pg. 14). T...


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...his cauldron of powerful themes were heavily evident in the ways in which Spanish conquistadors treated Native peoples of the Americas. In the book Wonder and Exile in the New World by Alex Nava the elements of wonder, exile, deprivation and to an extent religion are shown to be driving forces that led to many beneficial and negative transgressions. The analysis of the adventures of Cabeza de Vaca and Las Casas proves that such elements do have the power to revolutionize a person’s way of life. In all, by understanding the different themes and concepts entwined in Nava’s book it is easy to comprehend a new appreciation and identification about the fact that many components throughout history have been at play in shaping today’s modern world.



Works Cited

Nava, Alex. Wonder and Exile in the New World. University Park, PA: Penn State University Press, 2013.

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