“Oh! Here’s our tiguamy, and we shall now know whether those things can speak .”
Really it’s not just this quote that I’m looking at, but the entire scene of interactions between the narrator’s group and the natives between pages 57-59. I just thought this part was really interesting and it was almost like the reactions and views were reversed. We all know that Europeans more than often had a very low opinion of people that are not of their own, but this section seems to show that it also happened with people who were the “others”.
When the narrator and her group went to explore and observe the the natives nearby, the situation ended up reversing. It was the natives who questioned their ability to speak or think intelligently. They were in awe of the foreign attire that the women were wearing – and probably thought they were dumb to wear such heavy materials in the heat that was common there. Throughout the section, the narrator’s expectations were proven false (from the reaction they received, to her image of the warriors) and the natives seemed to have had a much better, more intellectual depiction.
Whether or not this was just a figment of her imagination or an actual experience from the writer, the fact that this portion of the novella is written as such shows that to some degree people of the time understood that the natives of these new colonies were intellectual to a certain extent. I feel like it would impossible otherwise for such depictions to come about, if the consensus was that they were completely uncultured, or incapable of acting as a society. The questions these natives were wondering in this book, were the exact ones the Europeans were thinking, so it is understandable to think that she viewed the natives as someone who had some intellectual capacity. Of course this is very romanticized and still has that sense of European superiority throughout – she did say she expected the native warriors to look like beasts – it is still a different take on natives that I never came upon before.
I definitely think that since the story was so short, I was more focused on the actual storyline when I first read it. However, after our discussions in class I was compelled to look at it differently and try to find the nuances that everyone picked up on. This book is definitely richer than people would think at first glance.