Essay Example on The Hybridity of Mary Jemison & Mary Rowlandson: A Cultural Uneasiness

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  3
Wordcount:  569 Words
Date:  2023-09-10

The stories of Mary Jemison and Mary Rowlandson capture the critical aspects of hybridity and cultural uneasiness. Jemison’s dressing, speech, and overall demeanor were a blend of cultures. She is presented in her Indian blanket, a bonnet, a petticoat, and moccasins, while her speech still betrays her origin with its little Irish emphasis. Jemison was extracted from her protestant family and taken through a rite of passage, ostensibly to integrate her into a new tribe. The product of this process was her adoption of a mixture in cultural identity, which also formed the basis of ambiguity and uneasiness, defined the culture clash between the Native American tribe and the British settlers. Rowlandson’s presents the attempt by a captive to climb back to her original position in society. The captivity deprives her of her original dignity and sense of identity. The captivity narratives of Mary Rowlandson and Mary Jemison demonstrates intrusion, demonstration of cultural superiority, and the resultant culture clash that denies natives their original sense of identity but created a basis for distrust.

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The two narratives exemplify the existence of cultural gaps in the initial interactions involving native Americans and British settlers. The entry of a new culture necessitates a cultural exchange process that leads to the displacement and overlap of spaces that redefine cultural value, community interest, and a sense of nationhood. The overlap also permits cultural hybridity, which is the result of an imposed order. Cultural transitions lead to a situation an environment in which subjects are tossed between different tiers of the social structure. This ambiguity creates resistance to a new system with strict cultural definitions that categorize cultures as either superior or inferior. Violence is meted on a supposedly inferior culture by a supposedly superior one through colonization. In these stories, Native Americans become the subjects who are colonized and subjected to captivity.

Historically, the designation of Native Americans as inferior within a British colonial structure is evident in these narratives. The fact that the settler population invaded the new lands to populate them made invasion a structure and not just an event. This approach implies that there was a systemic process of suppressing the native cultures while appraising the colonial one. Taking over the colonies was a process of individuating and legitimizing authority. This individualization aimed to distinguish between the colony and another. The resultant inferior-superior dichotomy of cultures creates uneasiness and paranoia, and sensitivity to those who attempt to cross-cultural boundaries. The two narratives aptly capture this tension. The experiences of both characters exemplify the tensions between an imposed culture and a native culture, and its contribution to a hybridity that exhibits internal tensions.


In conclusion, the understanding of these two captivity narratives is derived from cultural ambiguity. There is the element of the existence of gaps between societies, and the creation of contact that establish hybridity. A dichotomy of superior and inferior cultures is created to individualize a nation, redefining its history, and recreating it anew. However, the processes involved disrupt the existing cultural structures and relegate natives into a subordinate role within the new cultural structure. The intrusion of cultural space results in an attempted resistance that is suppressed through oppressive means. Furthermore, there are systemic responses aimed at ensuring that a new cultural structure exists that is unique. However, the result is cultural heterogeneity that is characterized by a high level of distrust and paranoia.

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Essay Example on The Hybridity of Mary Jemison & Mary Rowlandson: A Cultural Uneasiness. (2023, Sep 10). Retrieved from

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