Literature and History: The Development of American Culture to 1865

Human condition

After reading the comment posted with “I wonder if the prejudices can ever be purged from human condition or just suppressed.” Although after some of our readings like the very Religious sermon from John Winthrop, Jonathan Edward and, Mary Rowlandson’s (captive experience). It seems as if there is no actual cure for the deep prejudice and even self-righteousness that the writings carry. Although these writers make their religious connection very important and a guide for their life they still seem so naive and short sighted. I think sometimes the lines between human morality and how religious you were in society where blurred which is clear in today’s society not the key. But there were few small actions that show as we talked about in class once humans are able to think outside their surroundings and what they know change can happen and occur.

De Las Casa’s writings and efforts to convince society that the actions taken towards the natives were wrong. He chooses to use his religious knowledge and belief to spread his message and to convert and help aid or guide the Indians. De Vaca took a more involved approach towards understanding the Indians and rather then bash the Indians for what seems like their primitive he is sharing the ways of life they shared with him.




Later in class we stared discussing the Puritans there was again the topic of the smug elect in society. The concept of self-righteousness and strict rules of the 5 tenants and the need for imbalance in society. While reading Anne Bradstreet’s poems you can pick up on her Puritans ways like in “The Flesh and Spirit” when she very clearly gives two sisters the embodiment of flesh and spirit. The idea of flesh and worldly objects are attracted to each other but should have no effect on a true Puritan because Spirit can see past that towards the after life.

Although Bradstreet’s poems do follow with society, it is still modern that a women write and her thoughts and feelings be voiced. When reading some information on Bradstreet many refer to her as one of the first feminist, writing poems like “Before the birth of one of her Children”. A poem only woman who expects to be a mother can relate to on a personal level and pain of losing a child.

After reading Jonathan Edwards’s personal narrative and his great efforts in the “Great Awakening “, how highly the people saw him and it seemed he could do no wrong then everything took a turn. But when he called for reform and more authority for the Church he was out-casted. People did not want to public declare themselves saved and the high families he called out didn’t appreciate his efforts either. He was dismissed and silenced which in a way is a very modern turn compared to our readings. It shows that the Church no longer had the hold it once did on society. Which is another attribution to show humans can indeed change just require time to adjust like a species.


2 responses

  1. De Las Casas was inspired by the Native Americans when Columbus first brought “seven Indians who had survived the voyage”. He later participated in the exploitation of the natives. The government had even appointed him “protector of the Indians”. He became a priest and wanted to stop slavery. This was short lived, when the realization came that he, himself, wasn’t going to be able to stop the slavery. Even after putting some lose laws into affect, that later got turned down. He then retreated back, and kept to himself. Yet his letter involved all the slander and abuse he had witnessed upon the Natives. The most compelling part of his letters that I will always remember, was the treatment to the Pearl Divers. The way he explains what the Native’s had to endure was gut-renching. The way he states that ships didn’t need a compass, that they could just follow the dead bodies (Natives) that were tossed overboard. The way he mentions how the pearl divers would go for hours diving and would be under water for minutes, with no breaks, would be chained up over night so that they wouldn’t escape, and how several times a diver wouldn’t come back up (either to drowning or shark attacks). Even though many of his stories were gruesome, I found his story compelling and hard to stop reading, plus it was very well written and intriguing.

    November 8, 2011 at 10:54 pm

  2. jacquibonaventure

    The native americans and the european exploration are subjects taught from the moment you start school. Through learning about them it’s made clear that the indians were treated terribly, to put it lightly, but it wasn’t until these readings that i ever fully grasped the terrible treatment. As the comment above went on to say, De Las Casas painted a very hard to look over picture of the extent of how badly these native americans were really treated. Inhumane and barbaric are definately two good words to describe such abuse. It’s also crazy to think about how we have accounts such as this at our fingertips and people still travel to other countries and mistreat other ethnic groups just as bad to achieve a goal, i would imagine, similar to the goals of the europeans in this time: wealth and power. History certainly repeats itself in different forms, yet the motivation for the repeat is always the same.

    November 10, 2011 at 11:26 pm

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