268 Unca is the Scientist of Her Own Experiment

Molly Ingram

When reading passage number two, many words stuck out to me. Some of these words were: strange, convert, attempt, understand, and bold attempt. After reading this passage and picking out the few words and sentences that stuck out to me, I came to the conclusion that this passage represents imperialism. Imperialism is an extension of power that can force or persuade a system and beliefs on to another society. I believe this is what Unca is trying to accomplish with the Natives. We see evidence in this passage as well as the entire novel. For instance, Unca convinces the indigenous peoples on the island to believe in her God. ” I had told them I was neither the God I had described, nor the sun, whom they beloved to be God, and yet refused to inform them who I was; yet I must have appeared to them to be more than a mere mortal, and recollecting that it was an option, common among untaught Indians, to believe that there are two beings” (102).

In this passage, Unca renders her God is superior to the Natives’ God. She explains her plans of changing the Natives’ beliefs in the following passage: “It was nothing less than this, to ascend into the hollow idol, speak to the Indians from thence, and endeavor to convert them from their idolatry.” “Convert” stands out to me here. The work suggests switching a long-held current belief system to something else. In order to do this, the imperialist needs to preach their ideas and beliefs to the colonized peoples. Unca holds a strong power over the Natives from the beginning by stating that her God is more powerful then theirs, and by presenting herself as this god-like mortal. The Natives are set up from the beginning to think of Unca as a higher power then them, and she uses it to her advantage by spreading her religious views throughout their society.

Unca views these indigenous peoples almost like a science experiment. She looks at them in awe, with a mission in attempt, and sees them as strange. By making the Natives feel degraded or inferior, Unca establishes her power. Since she understands their language, they accept her beliefs and feel her powerful messages and underlying force.


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

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