Narrative Conventions In The Searchers

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Narrative Conventions In The Searchers

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The Sons of the Pioneers - The Searchers (complete version)

In fact, that old teleological ethic — which kept America strong through a civil war, two world wars and two centuries of expansion — was beginning to erode. This film presents something fairly alien in cinema, especially within the Western genre: two characters attempting to escape from a country they never asked for, in any way that they can. It defies as many conventions of American cinema as it does conventions of American social life. It is imperative to this analysis that the conventions of cinema which Easy Rider defies be clearly established.

Easy Rider is a movie about being a stranger in your own country, about the sense that the land you live does not really belong to you, anymore. The Manifest Destiny has run its course, the atomic bombs could fall at any minute and none of the antiquated patriotism seems to mean anything anymore. Perhaps the Captain and Billy feel that in traveling back to the East they are, somehow, giving back the land that may not ever have been theirs in the first place. There are many scenes in Easy Rider that transgress acceptable American filmic imagery. Their use of drugs is portrayed sympathetically throughout the movie, marijuana in particular being shown as nothing more than a means of evening relaxation.

As Billy and the Captain meander through New Orleans during an acid trip, we see not images of decadence or deviance, but those of fear and loathing. This all occurs after the death of their ACLU friend, George; a man with such deep concerns for the state of his country, who could actually see past the bright colors, through the pot haze and understand that this new generation was restless for a reason.

This film has always been noted for its use of popular music of the day, like Jimi Hendrix and the Byrds, eschewing typical methods of soundtracking like an orchestral score. While the music for Easy Rider was put in mostly a matter of chance the editor for the film, Donn Cambern, listened to the music used while working on the movie and decided to integrate it , there is importance to be found in the use of rock and folk music for a soundtrack. At times the music even has direct meaning. Captivity in another culture brought into question many aspects of the captives' lives. Reflecting their religious beliefs, the Puritans tended to write narratives that negatively characterized Indians. They portrayed the trial of events as a warning from God concerning the state of the Puritans' souls, and concluded that God was the only hope for redemption.

Such a religious cast had also been part of the framework of earlier English accounts of captivity by Barbary pirates. The numerous conflicts between Anglo-American colonists and the French and Native Americans led to the emphasis of Indians' cruelty in English-language captivity narratives, which served to inspire hatred for their enemies. During Queen Anne's War , French and Abenaki warriors made the Raid on Deerfield in , killing many settlers and taking more than persons captive. They were taken on a several hundred-mile overland trek to Montreal. Many were held there in Canada for an extended period, with some captives adopted by First Nations families and others held for ransom.

In the colonies, ransoms were raised by families or communities; there was no higher government program to do so. The minister John Williams was among those captured and ransomed. His account, The Redeemed Captive , was widely distributed in the 18th and 19th centuries, and continues to be published today. Due to his account, as well as the high number of captives, this raid, unlike others of the time, was remembered and became an element in the American frontier story.

Elizabeth Hanson wrote a captivity narrative after gaining return to her people. In the final 30 years of the 18th century, there was a revival of interest in captivity narratives. Ebenezer Fletcher, of Newipswich, Who Was Taken Prisoner by the British provided American reading audiences with new narratives. In some accounts, British soldiers were the primary antagonists. Seven captivity narratives are known that were written following capture of colonists by the Mi'kmaq and Maliseet tribes in Nova Scotia and Acadia two other prisoners were future Governor Michael Francklin taken and Lt John Hamilton taken at the Siege of Grand Pre.

Whether their captivity experiences were documented is unknown. George's River He was captured in the Siege of Pemaquid Pote also wrote about being tortured. Ritual torture of war captives was common among Native American tribes, who used it as a kind of passage. After four years of captivity, his sister decided to remain with the natives. In a prisoner exchange, Payzant and his mother returned to Nova Scotia. During the war Gamaliel Smethurst was captured; he published an account in Simon Stephens, of John Stark's ranger company, and Captain Robert Stobo escaped together from Quebec along the coast of Acadia, finally reaching British-controlled Louisbourg and wrote accounts.

During the Petitcodiac River Campaign , the Acadian militia took prisoner William Caesar McCormick of William Stark 's rangers and his detachment of three rangers and two light infantry privates from the 35th. The Acadian militia took the prisoners to Miramachi and then Restogouch. North America was not the only region to produce captivity narratives. North African slave narratives were written by white Europeans and Americans who were captured, often as a result of shipwrecks, and enslaved in North Africa in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

If the Europeans converted to Islam and adopted North Africa as their home, they could often end their slavery status, but such actions disqualified them from being ransomed to freedom by European consuls in Africa, who were qualified only to free captives who had remained Christians. The British captives produced 15 full biographical accounts of their experiences, and the American captives produced more than editions of 40 full-length narratives. Turner discusses the effect of those accounts in which white captives came to prefer and eventually adopt a Native American way of life; they challenged European-American assumptions about the superiority of their culture.

During some occasions of prisoner exchanges, the white captives had to be forced to return to their original cultures. Children who had assimilated to new families found it extremely painful to be torn from them after several years' captivity. Numerous adult and young captives who had assimilated chose to stay with Native Americans and never returned to live in Anglo-American or European communities. The story of Mary Jemison , who was captured as a young girl and spent the remainder of her 90 years among the Seneca, is such an example. It sensitively portrays the plight of Canadian aboriginal children who were captured and sent to residential schools, where they were stripped of their Native identity and forced to conform to Eurocentric customs and beliefs.

The story of Patty Hearst , which unfolded primarily in the mids, represents a special case. She was initially captured by a domestic U. About a year later, she was photographed wielding a machine gun, helping them rob a bank. Was she an "assimilated captive" or was she only cooperating as a matter of survival? Was she " brainwashed " or fully conscious, acting with free will? These questions were hotly debated at the time. Out of thousands of religious groups, a handful have become associated with acts of violence. A recent American sitcom , Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt , is premised on the notion of "cult survivor" as a social identity.

It is not unusual for anyone who grew up in a religious and culturally conservative household — and who later adopted secular mainstream values — to describe themselves as a "cult survivor", notwithstanding the absence of any abuse or violence. In this sense, "cult survivor" may be used as a polemical term in connection with the so-called " culture war ". Not all anti-cult captivity narratives describe physical capture. Sometimes the capture is a metaphor, as is the escape or rescue. The term "captive" may nonetheless be used figuratively. Some captivity narratives are partly or even wholly fictional, but are meant to impart a strong moral lesson, such as the purported dangers of conversion to a minority faith.

Perhaps the most notorious work in this subgenre is The Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk , [25] a fictional work circulated during the 19th century and beyond, and used to stoke anti-Catholic sentiment in the U. She claimed to have been born into a Protestant family, but was exposed to Roman Catholicism by attending a convent school. Though the Maria Monk work has been exposed as a hoax , it typifies those captivity narratives which depict a minority religion as not just theologically incorrect, but fundamentally abusive. The basic structure of the captivity narrative concerns the rescue of "helpless" maidens who have been kidnapped by "natives"[. For James R. Lewis , the nineteenth century captivity narrative was intended to either entertain or titillate audiences, or to function as propaganda.

Like James R. Lewis , David G. Bromley is a scholar of religion who draws parallels between the propaganda function of 19th century captivity narratives concerning Native peoples, and contemporary captivity narratives concerning new religious movements. Bromley notes that apostates from such movements frequently cast their accounts in the form of captivity narratives. This in turn provides justification for anti-cult groups to target religious movements for social control measures like deprogramming. In the limiting case, exiting members without any personal grievance against the organization may find that re-entry into conventional social networks is contingent on at least nominally affirming such opposition coalition claims.

Any expressions of ambivalence or residual attraction to the former organization are vigorously resisted and are taken as evidence of untrustworthiness. Emphasis on the irresistibility of subversive techniques is vital to apostates and their allies as a means of locating responsibility for participation on the organization rather than on the former member. They employ the devices of the captivity narrative in dramatic fashion, typically pitting mainstream secular values against the values held by some spiritual minority which may be caricatured. As is true of the broader category, anti-cult captivity narratives are sometimes regarded with suspicion due to their ideological underpinnings, their formulaic character, and their utility in justifying social control measures.

In addition, critics of the genre tend to reject the " mind control " thesis, and to observe that it is extremely rare in Western nations for religious or spiritual groups to hold anyone physically captive. Like captivity narratives in general, anti-cult captivity narratives also raise contextual concerns. Ethnohistoric Native American culture differs markedly from Western European culture.

Each may have its merits within its own context. Modern theorists question the fairness of pitting one culture against another and making broad value judgments. Similarly, spiritual groups may adopt a different way of life than the secular majority, but that way of life may have merits within its own context. Spiritual beliefs, rituals, and customs are not necessarily inferior simply because they differ from the secular mainstream. Anti-cult captivity narratives which attempt to equate difference with abuse, or to invoke a victim paradigm, may sometimes be criticized as unfair by scholars who believe that research into religious movements should be context-based and value-free. Just as Where the Spirit Lives may be viewed as a "reverse" captivity narrative concerning Native peoples, the story of Donna Seidenberg Bavis as recounted in The Washington Post [31] may be viewed as a "reverse" captivity narrative concerning new religious movements.

The typical contemporary anti-cult captivity narrative is one in which a purported "victim" of " cult mind control " is "rescued" from a life of "slavery" by some form of deprogramming or exit counseling. During that time, she was subjected to abusive treatment in an effort to "deprogram" her of her religious beliefs. She escaped her captors by pretending to cooperate, then returned to the Krishna temple in Potomac, Maryland.

She subsequently filed a lawsuit claiming that her freedom of religion had been violated by the deprogramming attempt, and that she had been denied due process as a member of a hated class. Among anti-cult captivity narratives, a subgenre is the Satanic Ritual Abuse story, the best-known example being Michelle Remembers. Michelle Remembers represents the cult survivor tale at its most extreme. In it, Michelle Smith recounts horrific tales of sexual and physical abuse at the hands of the " Church of Satan " over a five-year interval. However, the book has been extensively debunked, and is now considered most notable for its role in contributing to the Satanic Ritual Abuse scare of the s, which culminated in the McMartin preschool trial.

Captivity narratives, in addition to appealing to adults, have been attracting today's children as well. The narratives' exciting nature and their resilient young protagonists make for very educational and entertaining children's novels that have for goal to convey the "American characteristics of resourcefulness, hopefulness, pluck and purity". Schwebel writes:. Johnson's Narrative vividly describes Susanna Johnson's forty-eight-month ordeal — the terror of being taken captive, childbirth during the forced march, prolonged separation from her three young children, degradation and neglect in a French prison, the loss of a newborn, a battle with smallpox, separation from her husband, and finally, widowhood as her spouse fell in yet another battle in the years-long French and Indian war.

Spear borrowed heavily from Johnson's text, lifting both details and dialogue to construct her story. In pitching her tale to young readers, however, she focused not on the Narrative 's tale of misfortune but on the youthful optimism of Susanna Johnson's largely imagined younger sister, Miriam. This article references captivity narratives drawn from literature, history, sociology, religious studies, and modern media.

Scholars point to certain unifying factors. Of early Puritan captivity narratives, David L. Minter writes:. First they became instruments of propaganda against Indian "devils" and French "Papists. Still later they became pulp thrillers, always gory and sensational, frequently plagiaristic and preposterous. In American literature, captivity narratives often relate particularly to the capture of European-American settlers or explorers by Native American Indians, but the captivity narrative is so inherently powerful that the story proves highly adaptable to new contents from terrorist kidnappings to UFO abductions.

These anxieties inspired vicious anti-Catholic propaganda with pornographic overtones, such as Maria Monk's Awful Disclosures [. Alexandra Heller-Nicholas quoted earlier points to the presence of a "helpless" maiden, and a "hero" who rescues her. Together, these analyses suggest that some of the common elements we may encounter in different types of captivity narratives include:.

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