American Literature: Indigenous Peoples Exam
Due by end of day, Monday, 22 February 2021
Follow the instructions, complete the exam, and submit your work to the correct assignment dropbox in Blackboard. Exam submission to Blackboard is mandatory, required. Unless there is an emergency we have discussed, if you email me your exam, I will not grade it.
Part One: Quote Significance, Short Response
For this section, choose three (3) the quotes from the section below and describe in detail the significance of each quote. For each detailed explanation, you must provide the full title, the correctly spelled first and last name of the author, and the publication date. While you should explain the importance of the quote itself—you should also analyze how the excerpt represents the entire piece of literature. You might also connect the quote to a big idea or theme we have discussed in class—and, of course, how it relates to your own ideas and analysis. (Aim for about 200 words per response.)
a. “We are, I am, you are / by cowardice or courage / the ones who find our way / back to this scene / carrying a knife, a camera / a book of myths / in which / our names do not appear.”
b. “The people of this island and all of the other islands which I have found and of which I have information, all go naked, men and women, as their mothers bore them, although some women cover a single place with the leaf of a plant or with a net of cotton which they make for that purpose.”
c. “Oh the roaring, and singing and dancing, and yelling of those black creatures in the night . . . Little do many think what is the savageness and brutishness of this barbarous enemy”
d. “Brothers, these people from the unknown world will cut down our groves, spoil our hunting and planting grounds, and drive us and our children to the graves of our fathers, and our council fires, and enslave our women and children.”
e. “[F]ive or six times did he and his squaw refresh my feeble carcass. If I went to their wigwam at any time, they would always give me something . . . Another squaw gave me a piece of fresh pork, and a little salt with it, and lent me her pan to fry it in; and I cannot but remember what a sweet, pleasant, and delightful relish that bit had to me, to this day.”
f. “Brothers—If you do not unite with us, they will first destroy us, and then you will fall an easy prey to them. They have destroyed many nations of red men because they were not united, because they were not friends to each other.”
g. “As soon as I arrived in the Indies, in the first island which I found, I took by force some of them, in order that they might learn and give me information of that which there is in those parts, and so it was that they soon understood us, and we them, either by speech or signs, and they have been very serviceable. I still take them with me, and they are always assured I come from Heaven.”
h. “I came to explore the wreck. / The words are purposes. / The words are maps. / I came to see the damage that was done / and the treasures that prevail. / . . . / the thing I came for: / the wreck and not the story of the wreck / the thing itself and not the myth”
i. “Brothers—When the white men first set foot on our grounds, they were hungry; they had no place on which to spread their blankets, or to kindle their fires. They were feeble; they could do nothing for themselves. Our father commiserated their distress, and shared freely with them whatever the Great Spirit had given his red children . . . . Brothers, the white people are like poisonous serpents: when chilled, they are feeble and harmless; but invigorate them with warmth, and they sting their benefactors to death.”
j. “[Y]ou now see the foe before you, that they have grown insolent and bold; that all our ancient customs are disregarded; the treaties made by our fathers and us are broken, and all of us insulted; our council fires disregarded, and all the ancient customs of our fathers; our brothers murdered before our eyes.”
k. “This is America / Don’t catch you slippin’ now / Look at how I’m livin’ now / Police be trippin’ now / Yeah, this is America / Guns in my area / . . . / You just a black man in this world / You just a barcode”
Part Two: Essay Questions, Long Response
For this section, choose two (2) questions to answer exhaustively with analysis—not summary. You may incorporate ideas we have discussed in class, as well as your own ideas and argumentation—or ideas you have learned in other classes (like history!) that relate.
(These answers will be longer than the short response section, closer to 350 words per response.)
a. In her poem, “Diving into the Wreck,” Adrienne Rich metaphorically explores ruins at the bottom of an ocean, a symbolic wreck. Rich wants to witness this wreck of outdated ideas so she might discover for herself the reality behind the myth. The poet sets out on her exploration alone, but she suggests that others have “dived” before her, risked such journeys toward truth. Is there an author we have read so far that does the same? What is the wreck for them? What truths does your chosen author attempt to uncover?
b. How have Native Americans responded to the legacy of colonialism? What harm did settler-colonist government and policy set in motion? Can it ever be reversed? How?
c. Deeply religious Puritan rhetoric employs the captivity narrative to establish and justify a fear of the Other. For example, Mary Rowlandson was culturally conditioned by her peers to demonize Natives. However, Rowlandson did not leave the woods with absolute certainty about white cultural superiority, which ultimately subverts the political purpose of her captivity narrative. In what way does the stated purpose of the narrative contradict the effect of what Rowlandson tells us about her experience? Perhaps she sees herself as a possessing a divided subjectivity because her experience was so traumatic? Perhaps her partial acclimation to Wampanoag life is a form of Stockholm Syndrome?
d. Most indigenous cultures across the Americas recognize Christopher Columbus’ exploration as the start of the erosion of their cultures the invasion of their land by Europeans. What is Columbus’ tone in his letter? How was he problematic? What legacy did he leave behind? Anything good from the OG Colonizer?
e. American Indian speech-making can sometimes sound violent at first glance. However, they frequently lament the persecution and displacement of their people as they detail the horrors experienced during colonization. How do Metacom and Tecumseh illustrate these tense emotions this in each of their speeches?
f. It is undeniable that Rowlandson’s captivity narrative allows for multiple views of the landscape, Native Americans, and women. Does this narrative technique of the divided speaker allow Rowlandson to slide heterodox ideas past moral gatekeepers of the Puritan community such as Cotton Mather (who contributed supplementary material to at least one of the early editions of Rowlandson’s narrative)? Or is she attempting to control representation and shut down possible meanings about what happened to her and what she did during her captivity? If this is the case, then why not rewrite the narrative, editing out the Resourceful Survivor all together?
g. Either choose an idea we have discussed in class, but I did not mention on this exam—or an idea we have not covered at all but you are interested in (that relates to what we have read, can’t just be something totally random). Write about it.
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