Summary Of Sedgwick's 'Chief Pocahontas'

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Women aren’t as capable as men. Is this really a true statement? No, but this statement was a common and unquestioned ideology before the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848, the first formal and documented discussion of women’s rights. Even though women’s rights were brushed off to the side before the women’s rights movement, they were not non-existent. Female authors had been around for a long time before that, and while they may not have been incredibly popular or commonplace, these writers did one important thing that their male counterparts couldn’t: they wrote with a female point of view. When early literature, narratives and myths are examined, it is apparent that almost all popular works were written by men. For example, the American origin …show more content…
Sedgwick’s new perspective is revealed in the way the story focuses on two female protagonists, rather than revolving the story solely around a Captain Smith character and other male characters and their adventures. The main female characters, Magawisca and Hope Leslie, give the original story a new meaning as their exploits take an innovative and empowering stand. Magawisca relates to the origin myth as she directly parallels Pocahontas. In the original tale, Captain John Smith is set on a rock to be beaten to death by Chief Powhatan and the rest of the men in the tribe in order to avenge the life of two fallen brethren. Pocahontas saves Smith’s life when she throws herself in between the chief and Smith, and demands that Smith’s life be spared. A similar scene appears in Volume 1, Chapter 7 of Hope Leslie. Here, the Native American tribe has captured a white settler named Everell (the Captain John Smith figure). His capturing is also supposed to lead to a murder to avenge the life of a fallen Native American. In Pocahontas’ case, Powhatan simply listens to her demands to spare the Captain. In Hope Leslie, Magawisca has to work a bit harder. She too begins by pleading to Mononotto (the …show more content…
However, this is a new version of that classic idea as female are the ones who are teaming up. In Volume 2, Chapter 1, there is a scene where Magawisca and Hope Leslie meet in a graveyard. They meet to discuss their sisters, Nelema (Magawisca’s) and Faith (Hope’s). Hope went against ideas of proper feminine behavior and helped Nelema escape from a white prison, Magawisca revealing that her sister eventually “crawled back into my father’s wigwam. She had but scant time and short breath; with that she cursed your race, and blessed you, Hope Leslie” (Heath 2576). Hope’s risky move in freeing Nelema was an liberating one that Sedgwick includes to show Hope’s strong characteristics. In regards to Hope’s sister, Faith, Magawisca says she is married to Oneco, Magawisca’s brother. Another new Sedgwick concept, the marriage is a parallel to the one in Pocahontas, but it is reversed as a white woman is assimilating into Native American culture rather than the other way around. Though Hope is appauled by the marriage, as any white Puritans probably would have been at that time, she is reassured by Magawisca that Faith is happy, loved and safe, and promises to arrange a meeting for the two sisters to reunite. All of the secret meetings would have been forbidden at the time as they occurred between females without male knowledge, and

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