Reading even a small sample of captivity narratives

This preview shows page 6 - 8 out of 20 pages.

Reading even a small sample of captivity narratives reveals somecommondisadvantagestoworkingwiththemasa source. First, some narratorsandedi-tors aremorereliablethanothers. Many captives were barely literateandsotold their talesthrougheditors or journalistswhotookconsiderable libertywiththetext,inventingspeeches or dialogueasif suchwords were remembered ver-batim or massagingthedetailstomaximize dramatic effect. Some narratives werepublishedyears aftertheexperience of captivity,whenthepassageoftimemayhave dulled some memories or exaggerated others. Separating fact from fictionincaptivity narrativescanbe difficult.Aswithanysource, ahistorianwill seekothermaterials, suchasIndianoral traditions or archaeological data,tocorrobo-rate conclusions derived fromthem.Another significant disadvantagetoworkingwithcaptivity narratives con-cernsthetypeofcaptiveswhowrotethem.Historians va luetheeyewitnessaccounts these narratives provide ofIndianlife,butthose captiveswhoweremostassimilatedintoNative Americancommunities-theoneswhoneverreturnedtocolonialsociety-rarelywrote narratives oftheirexperiences. Thelonger a captive stayedwithhercaptors,themoreimmersed she became inIndianlife, learning a new language, acquiring new kin,andultimately learn-ingtoviewtheworldthroughIndianeyes. Thesesamecaptives weretheonesmostlikelytoforgettheirnative language, never acquire literacy,andloseconnectionwithcolonial society.Unlesstheywere purposely soughtoutbyjournalists or publishers,theirstories werenotlikelytobe toldinprint.Con-versely,manycaptivity narratives were publishedbyescaped orransomedcap-tiveswhoneverspentmorethana few weeksinIndiancompany.Comparedwithwhatlong-term captives underwent,theirexperienceamountedtolittlemorethanthatof touristsona particularly bad trip. Each captive has auniquestorytotell, and,aswithanyhistorical source, you willwanttoexaminethenarrativeswitha critical eye. TheChecklist questionsonpage31providegen-eral guidelines for interrogating captivity narratives.
UsingtheSource:Captivity Narratives31CHECKLIST:InterrogatingCaptivityNarrativesDWhoistheauthorofthenarrative? Wasthecaptivemaleorfemale,andatwhatage was heorshetakencaptive?DWhenwasthecaptivitynarrativewritten?Howmuchtimeelapsedbetweenthecaptivityitselfandthewritingofthenarrative? Didthecaptivewriteithimselforherself,ordidsomeoneelseputthecaptive'sstoryintowriting?DWhatwerethecircumstancesofthecaptivity? Forexample,amongwhichIndiangroups(i.e., tribes, bands,towns)didthecaptive live?

Upload your study docs or become a

Course Hero member to access this document

Upload your study docs or become a

Course Hero member to access this document

End of preview. Want to read all 20 pages?

Upload your study docs or become a

Course Hero member to access this document

Term
Spring
Professor
Larsen B. Plyler
Tags
Captivity narrative

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture