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“As It Was In The Beginning”, is a story about a Native-American woman who was deceived by her own longing for new experience and the illusion of the strange place called “Heaven”. This story furthers portrays the characteristic of colonization and the discrimination of one’s race and culture. One of the results of colonization are the internalized of negative self-image, which brought out mimicry of individuals that are effected. This will be the topic of the paper, as I dissect and argue the personality and behaviors of Esther throughout the story, as it pertaining to the subjection of Esther to her own self-imaged.
I will also discuss the influences of patriarchal male characters, whose roles are important in using their superiority to control those that are deemed inferior to them. This paper will also mention the topic of eugenic, which describe the approach of superiority genetics based on ones race and culture. This mentality is portray in the story on the belief of Eurocentric values, which describes the bias standards in comparing ones own culture to the others, with the belief of achieving superiority, by eliminating others identity and cultural values.
This story revolves around Esther, who is a Native American woman, was deceived by those that was supposed to cared and love her, specifically Father Paul and Laurence, who she admitted to have a special connection with throughout the story. This betrayal of belief would create a dilemma that could have a different result, however, ultimately ending in retaliation and retribution.
The result itself would have end differently, if not for Esther’s lack of confidence, being separated from her cultures, and the subjection of her own cultural identity. “ I was lounging at the doorway, idling, watching, as I always watched, the thin, distant line of sky and pairie; wondering, as I always wondered, what lay beyond it” (Johnson 1). This quote came from Esther, as she describes herself as waiting and wanting for a chance to leave her homeland, and traveled to the unknown. “His stories fascinated me. I used to listen intently to the tale of the strange new place he called ‘heaven,’ of the gold crown, of the white dress, of the great music” (Johnson 2). This quote is another evidence that supports Esther fascination for the world beyond and her leaving with Father Paul, without any questions or rejection from her or her parent. This inferior mentality seems to come from the households stereotypic structure, with most of the decision-making comes from the father or the man of the family, while the woman’s roles are limited to taking care of the children and household.
“Oh, how I hated that stiff new calico dress and those leather shoes! But, little as I was, I said nothing, only thought of the time when I should be grown, and do as my mother did”(Johnson 3). This quote from Esther mention how she was reminded of her gender role as a female in the family, which is to be silence and follow the adult’s instructions. This theme is a recurrent factor that represent by the characters that are describe to be inferior and weak. An example of this would be Esther’s mother, who did speak out against Father Paul taking Esther with him at the beginning. The outrage, however, did not hinder the decision, which was ultimately made by the father, with no action or outrage from the mother to reject the decision. “What mattered it that ‘Father Paul’ loved me, that the traders at the post called me pretty, that I was a pet of all, from the factor to the poorest trapper in the service”(Johnson 5). In this quote, Esther express the negative self-imaged of herself for the approval of Father Paul, in which she degraded her self-imaged by describing herself as an pet, whose loyalty are only toward Father Paul. Esther is using the term pet, as someone who is loyal to the master that loves her, while what Father Paul wants was a pet project; an experiment that has an end goal, to eliminated Esther’s cultural identity. These are some evidences from the story, which proves Esther’s early childhood personality and behaviors as the reason why Esther allowed her identity to be defined by others. “As It Was In The Beginning” is a story that expressed different emotions and characteristic of hierarchy, as it pertaining to the story, mostly focus on patriarchy and gender discrimination. Some evidence includes, when Esther’s father granted Father Paul the permission to take Esther with him, despite his wife rejection of the offer. “Take the child, Blackcoat, and save her from hell”(Johnson 3). This is a quote from the father giving his permission as the final decision to Father Paul to take Esther with him, despite the opinion of the mother. Another evidence happens when Esther was homesick, wanting to go back to her homeland. “I wanted my own people, my own old life, my blood called out for it, but they always said I must not return to my father’s tepee”(Johnson 5). This is a quote from Esther expressing how desperate she was, as she’s longing for a chance to go back to her parents, but was restricted due to the majority assumption of Esther shifting back to her cultural identity. This situation would end with Esther’s response being in silence, as she waited for another opportunity to escape. Another evidence is shown through the relationship between Esther and Laurence. ‘Don’t leave me, don’t leave me, Esther; my Esther, my child-love, my playmate, my girl-comrade, my little Cree sweet heart, will you go away to your people, or stay, stay for me, for my arms, as I have you now?”(Johnson 7). This is a quote from Laurence, expressing his love for Esther, while seducing her into staying by his side. Another quote from the story is the evidence of when Esther also made a confession expressing how she also loves Laurence, as she willing to do anything for him. “Only this man, this fair, proud, tender man who held me in his arms, in his heart.
My soul prayed to his great white God, in that moment, that He let me have only this”(Johnson 7). As Esther becoming homesick and wanting to come back to her homeland, her love for Laurence would hinder that decision, as she’s willingly giving her identity to be in love with Laurence and follow his god. These are some of the supporting evidence that play a factor in portraying how patriarchy and hierarchy plays a role in influences ones own decision. In this story, another portray of superiority is shown through the belief of eugenic. Eugenic can be describe as the manipulating of human genetics to produce superior people, through eliminating or excluding individuals who are categorized as inferior out of the equation. In this story, evidence can be shown with Father Paul being the eugenic supporter, as he does not want Laurence to married Esther, for her identity and cultural background. He goes on describing her whole family as half-breed and describes Esther as a caged animal. “My whole heart is with the Indian people, my son; my whole heart, my whole life, has been devoted to bringing them to Christ, but it is a different thing to marry with one of them'(Johnson 10). This proves that Father Paul intention was not pure, that his only purpose was trying to use Esther not only as a pet project, but also as an experiment to eliminate the Native American culture. The story of “ As It Was In The Beginning” is about a Native girl who was kidnapped from her family, and forcibly integrated into having a new identity and culture, without having her own voice in the decision-making. This is due to the main character portraying a personality that is both passive and silent, while not having the opportunity to speak due to her gender roles. Among the disadvantage, She was also being deceived and abandon by her supposedly protector. This situation would be the sources of transition for the main character development in her personalities and behaviors. This is the result of colonization, in which the colonizer would used their own standards in comparing to other cultures, while unconsciously trying to disregard and eliminate individuals values, through the actions of taking over ones own freedom.
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