Captivity Narratives In American Literature

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Literature is an art form that allows writers to share their ideas with the readers, describe their life experience, or reflect historical events. When choosing certain literature genre, writers can find the best way to realize their ideas in certain literary work and achieve their writing objectives. It is also necessary to mention that every particular country and culture has its own literature trends and peculiarities. For example, American literature often deals with such concepts as personal freedom, intercultural communication, and the struggle for liberty. Therefore, captivity narratives represent a significant portion of cultural heritage of American population. In fact, American territories unite people from different cultures. There…show more content…
According to Allen, “Most of the seventeenth and eighteenth century North American captivity narratives were written retrospectively – with often up to a couple of years’ interval between the release of the former captives (subjects of the narrative) and the publication of the narrative” (“The Captivity Narrative” 13). Writers of captivity narratives wanted to describe their own captivity situation, inspire those people who became captives of Native Americans, and describe the absurdism of wars between Europeans and indigenous population. Pioneers of this specific literature genres were trying to show the main characters as some heroic people who were able to overcome difficulties and had some mysterious strength of will. From their point of view, those individuals who returned home after many years of captivity were real heroes and it was of great importance to describe their lives in order to inspire Europeans to achieve victory in their colonization efforts. Although some of the first captivity narratives were fictional, there were also cases when captives of Native Americans decided to describe their own lives captive experience (Lyndgaard 12). In fact, these autobiographical narratives represent the most valuable part of American captivity literature. Realizing the importance of true description, these authors were…show more content…
According to Sanchez, “Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca’s 1542 La Relación que dio Álvar Núñez Cabeça de Vaca de lo caescido en las Indias... continues to be mined for information about the early conquest period of the Americas” (1). This Spanish conquistador spent eight years as a captive of Native Americans. Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca came to America as a member of Spanish expedition. Because Spain was a Catholic country, the author “La relación” was also Christian. The author’s ancestors in Spain were noble people and the prominent status of his family allowed this adventurer to join the expedition to North America as one of the leaders. However, internal conflicts during the expedition and natural disasters resulted in separation of the mission and its members chose different ways to explore the new land. Consequently, they lost an opportunity to struggle against local tribes. When Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca deepened into the mainland, Native Americans easily caught them. Being an intelligent person, he realized that all his previous life experience was useless in new realities. Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca realized that it was necessary for him to acquaint with the new culture and try to assimilate in order to survive. Although he was trying to save his identity and always asked God for help, he decided to become a shaman and healer, which was a part of the Native American religion system.

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