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The unredeemed captive?

Paper type: Essay
Pages: 4 (893 words)
Categories: America, American Culture, Cultural Identity, Literature
Downloads: 50
Views: 3

“These words indefinitely explain Eunice’s shame, disappointment and inability to return to such a family. Eunice lost any assimilation with her original language and culture very quickly. This was due to the intense time that she spent with the Indians. They were encouraged not to use their native language. The captive children faced great pressure to speak only the new language, and were punished for speaking English amongst themselves. Through Eunice forgetting her native language she lost part of her culture, which forced a bigger gap between her new and old life.

The Indians culture

It can be argued that this was another factor into her failing to be redeemed as without any contact with English, and such pressure from the surrounding environment, Eunice easily absorbed the new culture. When meetings were arranged with her family interpreters were necessary which further removed her from them and made them seem more alien. The Indians culture and way of life was also very different to what Eunice had been used to.

They lived in multi-family longhouses, and the children were not disciplined but were taught by example.

Indian culture excelled in hospitality, putting other civilised cultures, such as the puritans to shame. This again is very contrasting to the way in which Eunice was originally brought up. With this new freedom she had the opportunity to experience new things with less rules than the life she used to live. It is in essence realistic that she remained unredeemed merely as she favoured their lifestyle. On the other hand, morality was much looser than in European societies. Everyone did what seemed right in their own eyes, which was not always necessarily correct.

Overall however, this native way of life was far more attractive for a youngster who had been brought up by puritan parents, as a lifestyle for a puritan child was very modest and unrelenting with a great deal bearing on religion. John Williams was especially conscious of the fact that she may lose her religious base and warned her before leaving her “…. I told her she must be careful she did not forget her catechism and the scriptures she had learnt by heart.” Again here he is putting a great deal of pressure upon a young girls shoulders who is in an already stressful situation.

The factor of religion

It can therefore be argued that religion was a factor that pushed Eunice away from her family and culture and encouraged the tie she had with the Indian people. It can also be argued that Eunice preferred the different role of women within the Indian community. As Demos says “few would deny that Iroquoian women had real authority in family life, and even in some aspects governance.” As a puritan the women played a dated role in which the man of the house carries the responsibility, makes the decisions and earns the money.

The women however, bear and bring up the children in a very traditional and modest manner. Within the tribe however, and especially concerning Eunice as a captive, as Demos describes, “If a captive is a girl, given to a household where there is nobody of her sex in a position to sustain her lineage…. all the hopes of the family is placed in her.” Therefore she would have had the opportunity of responsibility alongside having a good deal more freedom and say within her life. Eunice was welcomed into Indian life and soon became fully integrated demonstrated when at the age of sixteen she married an Indian man.

The marriage

The marriage is very significant as it not only proves her personal acceptance into the tribe but by adopting a Kahnawake name she crossed cultural boundaries and become incorporated into the Kahnawake community. Here she developed into a key member of the tribe as many other captives had done before her. It had been recorded that the tribesman had held many captives in such high esteem that they had even become chiefs in their own right. This further demonstrates the acceptance of captives within tribes and shows they were treated as equals.

It can also be argued that Eunice remained unredeemed as her father although attempting many times failed to recover her himself. This however, was not her fathers fault entirely as the Indians refused to put her up for ransom as “The Indian who owns her….. is not willing to part with her” therefore it can also be disputed that by her father returning and being redeemed he was further from her and unable to affect her fate. However, this is not all John Williams’ fault as Eunice had become accustomed to the tribe and, “… seemed unwilling to return. ”

Therefore it appears that Eunice was not redeemed as she had become involved and accustomed to a new way of life from a very young age. She had experienced the death and loss of her family in traumatic circumstances and as a result looked for love within her new extended family. In essence she became a product of her environment. Her late brother Stephen noted before his death that he was the last living captive. However, he had overlooked Eunice but as Demos argues maybe this was not merely forgetfulness but that, “… he had changed his long-standing view and saw her, in the end, as captive no more.”

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The unredeemed captive?. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/the-unredeemed-captive-10495-new-essay

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