Sunday, October 19, 2008

Relating the three books...

It is obvious that we read these three books in a manner, in which we could analyze the three different perspectives on what happened in the history of the new world. It is important to be aware of the different attitudes towards the same history, and to realize how three different authors related to a monumental time in history. After analyzing the many perspectives, I have a better understanding of what happened and how each side dealt with the confusion. It seems to me that at this time, there would have been a lot of confusion amongst the Europeans, more specifically, the Spanish, and also the Indigenous people of America. The common theme of these books is the search for identity. Figuring out where they belong in the world, in which there are two very separate cultures have come together. For example, the Europeans identified themselves, at the time through religion, which is a theme in all three texts also. More importantly, the books explore the relationship between these two cultures.
The Europeans came to America with different missions. First, to look for resources and advancements, secondly, to take over what they believed, were inferior subjects. The conquest, in my opinion, was only one of the goals for the Spanish travelers. Naufragios by Cabeza de Vaca describes the feelings and attitudes of the Europeans towards the Indians. It captures the prejudice and stereotypical perspective and the reasons behind the violence and injustice. The inhumane behaviour towards the Indians was a result of their fear and confusion. For instance, the main event in the book is a storm with the intensity that simply was not experienced by the Europeans.
Las Casas, on the other hand, although from Spain and highly religious, wrote on behalf of the Indians. He fought for the rights of the indigenous people of the new world. He described the inhumane and unjust behaviour of his own people. However, he still believed that they were obedient people, and would voluntarily give up their own culture and adapt to the European lifestyle and become subjects of the king. Las Casas point of view on the situation were very idealistic.
Comentarios Reales by Garcilaso de la Vega, to me best captures the themes discussed in the course. He was born to a Spanish father, and a Peruvian mother. He is the ideal author to write about the history of the Americas. He was born in Peru, and so the first half of the book, describes in detail, the culture of the Incas, and their life before the conquest. He talks about the rise of the empire and the fall (in the second part). But the most interesting theme is the search for Identity. What defines the American, or the Spanish, and more importantly a Mestizo?

No comments: