American Culture

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American Culture

  1. According to Ronald Takaki in Chapter 2 of A Different Mirror, how does Mary Rowlandson’s narrative support his interpretation of events in the 1670? Find additional examples and quotations in the excerpt from Mary Rowlandson’s captivity narrative in the Kaleidoscope reader and relate them to Takaki’s interpretation.

According to Takaki, The Tempest, one of Shakespeare’s plays can be used to explain a lot if attitudes and conceptions people have about the Americas and the development of race ideologies and concepts.  This play was first released in 1611 and it served as a creation masquerade for a new American society (Takaki 25). Ireland was being invaded by the British and Caliban, a character in the Shakespeare play, was likened with the ‘wild Irish’ that was invaded by Britain. The author indicates that the English invaders destroyed Ireland for a period of two centuries, and even celebrated their triumph over the Irish people by taking slain Irish soldiers’ heads for trophies (27). In this chapter, the author likens these events with the play The Tempest which was really about the newly found world. In the view of the author, the name of Caliban was derived from cannibalism or cannibal. To him the obsession of the European colonizers of this period could be likened with cannibalism. The Indians, on the other hand, were likened to the devil by Takaki. They also represented other attributes such as sin, the body, laziness, sexuality and lack of self- control.

‘… On the surest ways to confirm an identity….. is to find some way of measuring what one is not….’ (Takaki 41). This is probably one of the most significant quotes in this chapter, emphasizing the need and interest of the author in identities. In the same chapter, Takaki relates or associates the narrative of Ki- wa- kwe- skew, which was another creature, thought to be the sister of the story’s main character, the cannibal. In the translations of the author, this creature was probably used to represent the oppressive Europeans.

The captivity narrative of Mary Rowlandson in a way supports the interpretations made by Takaki in his book. Mary was captured by warring Indians who attacked the English people with cruelty. They killed children, babies, women and men and beheaded some of them. They burned people’s houses with people in them and took captive those who remained. The reason why Mary’s story can be used to support the interpretations of Takaki in chapter 12 is because they both have .............


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