Conflicting Cultures in Louise Erdrich's Captivity Essay example

Conflicting Cultures in Louise Erdrich's Captivity Essay example

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Kidnapping colonists during the struggle for land in the early centuries of American history was a strong force influencing the images of Native Americans circulating among the Puritan pioneers. During these centuries, the battles between the natives and the Puritans cost thousands of lives on both sides, and countless stories in the forms of captivity narratives revealed truths and myths about the Native people. Although there were countless pieces of literature and propaganda published in this time period, the actual Indian captivity narratives have been narrowed down to works “that presumably record with some degree of verisimilitude the experiences of non-Indians who were captures by American Indians” (Derounian-Stodoloa, Levernier, 9). Through such a narrative by Mary Rowlandson, who was taken captive by the Wampanoag tribe in 1676, the contemporary writer and poet Louise Erdrich shows another side of history that could not have been expressed by the surviving captives hundreds of years ago. That recreation is her poem, “Captivity,” which uses the inner conflict of the captive woman to express both historical feelings of Native Americans and their place among whites, along with Erdrich’s conflicts within her own life.# Coming from a mixed family, with her mother being part Native American, Erdrich experiences a pull from both her European history and Native American heritage. Through her poem, “Captivity,” Erdrich exposes the inner conflict that is felt by both historical women and herself, such as the conflicting feelings and cultural pulls of the two societies through sharing experiences of removal from their known worlds and returns to the white man’s society.

In order to fully understand Erdrich’s interpretation...


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...rk, 1993.

Erdrich, Louise. “Captivity,” in Kelly, Joseph ed. The Seagull Reader: Poems. Norton and Company: New York, 2001.

Fast, Robin Riley. “Resistant History: Revising the captivity Narrative in ‘Captivity’ and Blackrobe: Isaac Jones.” American Indian Culture and Research Journal. 23:1 (1999) 69-96.

Logan, Lisa. “Mary Rowlandson’s Captivity and the ‘Place’ of the Woman Subject.” Early American Literature. 28 (1993) 255-277.

Namias, June. White Captives: Gender and Ethnicity on the American Frontier.University of North Carolina Press: Chapel Hill, 1993.

Vaughan, Alden T. “Early English Paradigms for New World Natives.” American Antiquarian Society. 102:1 (1992) 33-67.

Woodard, Maureen L. “Female Captivity and the Deployment of Race in Three Early American Texts.” Papers on Language and Literature. 32:2 (1996)

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