265 A Relationship that Reflected the World Around Them

Connor Smith

Unca Eliza Winkfield’s parents may seem to have an almost Disney-like story of falling in love but could this not be representing something bigger? While observing these chapters through a colonialism perspective, I tend to see many similarities to this story and the interactions that settlers would have with the natives. Many a time would the English take advantage of the natives through linguistics. Historically speaking, there have been many incidents where Europeans would trade land for objects to the natives at sadly low prices. In most Native tribes, land was for all people to use and not to be personally owned so this trade was thought to be great from Natives…until the Europeans would come in and make them get out with threats and actual violence. This story is to show one of the instances of how the natives were constantly being taken advantage of by the Europeans and this can be reflected between the relationship of Unca Eliza Winkfield’s parents.

“he found it not a little difficult to teach another what he yet firmly believed himself, but as we readily believe those whom we love, he was more successful than he expected, and in a little time the princess became convinced of her errors, and to good understanding help to forward her conversion” (51).

Looking at the wording here, I notice the following part: “the princess became convinced of her errors.” The word “errors” make me think how the father thinks of his wife’s religion as inferior compared to his and has to make her believe in what he sees as the correct religion. The conversion that he is aiming for is to make her more European so she can live in his society with him. But in doing so he is getting rid of some of her core beliefs and taking advantage of her love for him. You see these forms of conversions in other places in the book: whenever the daughter refers to the Natives, she says “Indians.” This term itself is problematic as the Native Americans were a highly diverse group of people that tend to be grouped all together. It reminds me of when people say similar things about how Africa is a country right? No, every tribe may have had some similarities but they all had cultures that fluctuated with each other. The relationship the parents shows the slow regression of how Native Americans were turned out to be more European as they became colonized.


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The Open Anthology of Earlier American Literature: A PSU-Based Project Copyright © 2016 by Connor Smith is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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