Themes in The Unreedemed Captive

Important Themes in ???The Unredeemed Captive???
???Most of all, I wanted to write a story??? (Demos, 1) In The Unredeemed Captive, John Demos, the author, wanted to write a story about the beginnings of America. John Demos??™ ???story??? explains the life of Reverend John Williams and his family. In 1703, French and Indians raid the city of Deerefield, and take most of the citizens captive, including John Williams and his family. His family is split between the Indian and French captors; some go to Montreal, and some go to Native American villages and tribes. The story focuses on Eunice Williams, one of John Williams??™ daughter, and her story of marrying a Native American. The rest of the book explains the strife between the English, French, and Native Americans; and the problems created by the captives taken from each side. Eventually, most disputes are settled and captives are ???redeemed???; except for Eunice, who chooses to be with her foster Native American family and her husband, ???The Unredeemed Captive???. John Demos, in The Unredeemed Captive focuses on how the religious and cultural influences of Europeans on Native Americans, and differences between the Native Americans and the Europeans influenced early America. writing service personal statement
The English set out to help the natives from the ???darkness of heathenism??? to the ???bright light of Protestant Christianity???. Eventually, their newfound cities and villages run into obstacle such as lack of resources and authority, natural disasters, and ???Indian Wars???. These obstacles cause the English to, ironically, ???un-civilize??? themselves. Lack of authority and resources cause the English to give up on civil methods and start ???riotous living??™, living without education and rules. Some villages are forced to obey brutish laws by their Indian captors. Eventually, few people start to prefer the Indian ways of life, and refuse repatriation to the English community, ???Civilized people willingly turned savage, their vaunted ???Old World??™ culture overwhelmed by the wilderness.??? (Demos, 4)
Jesuit missionaries tried to convert Iroquois to Christianity; however, not all were accepted and successful. Some Jesuit missionaries were accepted into Indian villages, others were ???martyred??? and imprisoned. Jesuit missionaries often created internal differences within the native population; traditionalists, those who opposed Christianity, versus those who adopted Christianity. ???Many Iroquois villages [were] divided into bitterly antagonized factions: newly professed Christians on the one hand, versus staunch ???traditionalists??™ on the other.??? (Demos, 5) Economic opportunity and pressure affected the natives by forcing them to either retain cultural integrity or gain prosperity and dependence on European commerce.
The Jesuits were granted a portion of land, which they named ???LaPrarie???, a place where they recruited Iroquois and preached Christianity to them. However, religion was not the only key motif for Iroquois to go to LaPrarie, ???The year 1667??¦a year of peace, following decades of devastation??¦for refugees from the burned out Mohawk villages, there was incentive to get away.??? (Demos, 123) LaPrarie was also close to economic opportunity due to beaver hunting and fur trade, making opportunity another motif for Native Americans to migrate to LaPrarie. The trading of animal skins for European guns, clothes, and liquor plagued LaPrarie of violence and drinking.
The Iroquois eventually split from LaPrarie, falling from civilized community to chaos. Some of the Iroquois eventually converted back into ???civilized??? Christians and migrated to Sault St. Louis; another establishment like LaPrarie, except it was bigger and had more resources. To combat future corruption, French officials collected the furs and prevented trade with other merchants. The French used religion as a method to create Native American allies; but they were not fully successful.
Native American populations were eventually affected by the onset of foreign populations. In 1665, the French sought truce with most of the Iroquois tribes, the Native American tribes from current day upstate New York. Those who accepted the truce eventually became the French Indians, and the opposing tribes were overwhelmed by the French military power and forcibly accepted the truce.
Epidemic diseases brought from Europe over to America devastated susceptible native populations. Eventually native populations tried to increase exposure to the English to increase resistance to disease and settle cultural differences, but this created ???internal complications ??“ of ethnic, linguistic, and (sometimes) religious differences.??? (Demos, 5)
Native American tribes were pressured to ???Europeanize??? and gain economical strength or retain their culture, but be isolated from economic prosperity and opportunity. ???Europeanizing??? led to a totally different culture, with new beliefs, architecture and lifestyle. Cultural differences between New England and Mohawk tribes varied drastically; New Englanders are described as ???nuclear: the residential unit was typically husband, wife, and ???natural??? children??¦Property descended through the male line, and authority, too was centered in men.??? (Demos, 143) Children in New England were strictly disciplined, held accountable for their actions, and were given chores. The Mohawk culture drastically differed with the New England culture; people lived in longhouses, which housed up to 2 families or 16 people, twice the number of a typical New England household. In addition, the wife and the husband do not set up a separate establishment apart from their original household; the children were housed in the mother??™s housing and family. The property also runs along the females, versus the males in the New England culture. Children in Mohawk villages were not disciplined as strictly as in children New England; the children were considered not to have the age of reason. The Native Americans were the most affected by the European colonization.
John Demos wanted to write a story about the beginning of America. He accurately captures the conflicts and differences between the different cultures during colonial America. However, John Demos did not fully achieve his goal of writing a story, rather than writing another history book. At times in the book, John Demos??™ writing is just telling the reader what is happening, rather than showing and explaining the details. John Demos does succeed in conveying different viewpoints of the same event, a key element in making The Unredeemed Captive an enjoyable book. In conclusion, John Demos successfully describes the events that shaped early America with many viewpoints; however, he is unable to capture the essence of a story.
Work Cited
Demos, John. The Unredeemed Captive: A Family Story From Early America. 1st. NY: Vintage Books, 1994. Print.


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