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Dukuen Fritz, Marina. PEC 2.

CA Vizcaya

Segunda Prueba de Evaluacin Continua a Distancia


1) Discuss binary oppositions in Olaudah Equianos and Phillis Wheatleys
writings (focusing on the texts selected in units 7 and 8). See A Study Guide for
American Literature to 1900, pages 63-65.
Binary oppositions can be either explicit or implicit in a text. In the case of Equianos
narrative, an explicit binary opposition that we can think of easily is the opposition
between slavery and freedom. During his narrative, Equiano tells us how he was
deprived from his freedom by describing his kidnapping and his imprisonment on the
slave ship. Other binary oppositions that we can identify in a very explicit way are the
ones presented in lines 24-30 and 86-91. The oppositions: black vs. white, evil vs. good
and mercy vs. cruelty are evident in these lines where he describes positively how he
was treated by people who spoke the same language as him, and describes negatively
the treatment received from the whites. Another example of these oppositions is the one
represented by ignorance vs. knowledge. Through the text is possible to find many
examples where the author was amazed by the functioning of the slave ship and all that
it contained, for instance, in lines 101-105. At the end of Equianos writing his tone
changes to be more accusative and we can find another opposition, Christians vs.
Pagans.
In the poetry of Phillis Wheatley we can also find more examples of binary
oppositions similar to the ones mentioned above. In her poem On Being Brought from
Africa to America we find mercy vs. cruelty, pagan vs. Christian, salvation vs.
damnation and black vs. white. Especially, the word benighted at line 2 acquires
certain symbolism since it makes clear the opposition between nigh and day or light vs.
night. To these oppositions we can add one more, found in To the University of
Cambridge, in New England which is evil vs. good. Finally, in To His Excellency
General Washington at line 32, we find another binary opposition full of irony:
freedom vs. slavery.
All these oppositions present at these authors writings call into question the surface
meaning of some assertions made in these works. In both cases, the oppositions found
help to reassure their own identity as Africans, as Christian people, and as intelligent
and educated as whites can be. In addition, the most subversive fact is that both writers
were able to gain literacy under the oppressive institution of the salve trade and the
widely accepted idea of white superiority. With the clever use of rhetorical irony in
Wheatleys works and Equianos powerful and highly eloquent double voice, they were
able to not only to contribute to the tradition of American Literature but helped to
support the antislavery cause.
2) Discuss the use of the four narrative modes in Washington Irvings Legend of
Don Munio Sancho de Hinojosa and in the excerpt you have read from chapter
XXXII of James Fenimore Coopers The Last of the Mohicans. See A Study
Guide for American Literature to 1900, pages 67-73.
In the case of Irvings work, the description of time, place and objects is not
extensive. Details are provided to suit the purpose of the story (lines 1-10). Although
characterization is no deep, seems to be more detailed than the rest of the descriptive
components. There is no physical or emotional description of the characters, they are
depicted by their possessions, their nature, their actions and the social rank they hold
(lines 11-16; 18-27; 31-39). On the other hand, we find in Coopers work a more vivid

Dukuen Fritz, Marina. PEC 2. CA Vizcaya

and intense description of the landscape, the actions and the objects. However, the
characterization is also stereotyped, since it falls on the idealized dichotomy of the
Good Indians represented by Uncas and Chingachgook; and the Bad Indians
represented by Magua. Captain Heyward represents the romantic hero and Alice, is the
week maiden to be saved. There is no physical description, too.
The focus seems to be on the report of actions, since these happen one after the other
without much delay. They are also used to describe characters attitude (lines 69-71,
Irving; 54-55, Cooper). In addition, Cooper unifies the descriptions with the report of
fast-paced actions in order to achieve suspense and colour in the story; while Irving
includes some adjectives -that may belong to the descriptive mode- in the report of
actions, such as powerful in line 105, beautiful in line 45 or good in line 58.
Regarding the speech, most of it is direct and it functions to help to fit the character
in the stereotype that represents. Abodil and Don Munio are knights and they speak as
knights (lines 50-57). And Doa Mara expresses herself as the fearful wife (lines 5962). The register is formal, the diction is lofty and the syntax is complex. In lines 40-41
and 47-49 we can find examples of inner indirect speech, and indirect speech
respectively. Direct speech is also present at Coopers text, but reduced to the minimum
and it helps to develop the character that represents, since the language spoken by Cora
is articulated (lines 16, 18, 28) and the one spoken by the Indians is almost intelligible
(lines 14,15, 25, 29, 30, 74-75).
Regarding the comment, we can see clearly that predominates at the end of the
Irvings story (lines 160-161). However, since the comment is made with the narrators
evaluations, observations and judgements; we can also appreciate its use through the
text by the authors choice of adjectives and adverbs. In this way the author is
provoking on the reader a positive or negative attitude towards the characters. For
instance, the selection of adjectives by Irving in line 12: noble and in line 58: good
to describe Don Munio and the one chosen by Cooper at line 67: honest to describe
Gamut. Of course, there is much less use of the comment mode on Coopers work than
in Irvings.
Finally, I would dare to say that the description and the speech modes are exceeded
by the report and speech modes in Irvings work, while in the case of Cooper, the report
and description modes dominate his text.