in in poetry The Onondaga Madonna tries to ...
in in poetry The Onondaga Madonna tries to examine the different topical issues
among the native Indians contact with the European race. The specific focus is on
the racial relations between the Europeans and the first nation people. When
the two races interacted, the former was viewed to be less superior in all
their practices. This paper examines the race relations and which race was
deemed superior and for what reasons.
explicit theme of the poem, ‘The
Onondaga Madonna’ depicts the racial relation of native Canadians and
the Europeans. The poem follows the format
of an Italian sonnet, the fourteen lines are
divided into an octave with abbaacca as the rhyming scheme and by a
sestet with defined as the second rhyming scheme. The octave is marked by the use of alliteration in all the eleven lines example in line two, ‘weird and waning’. The first
instant of racial relation in the poem is seen
in the octave, which clearly describes a native woman and tells what might
happen in the future that is the extinction of her people. From the poem, it is clear that the woman is hostile in
her behaviors and savage pagan actions
with a violent temperament.
Sestet, on the other hand,
tells focuses on the demise of the people of Onondaga, as illustrated in line
11, the woman’s son, ‘paler than she is’ this show the interaction between two
races hence the son is, at least, half
white. The intermarriage and assimilation with the Europeans which was
advocated for at the time was considered
to be the cause of a diminishing race of the Onondaga. In criticism of the
natives and their way of life, the poem can be misjudged as a racist as it
depicts the native woman in the poem to be a pagan, ‘pagan passion burns’. To
civilize the native, the poem advocates for intermarriage as the single element
that should be used and the assimilating them into the more supirior European people. According
to the poem, the native people had the blood of savage and passed this
to the new generation which can only be rectified by intermarriage.
From the title, one can conclude the racial
interaction even before reading deeper into the poem. The irony in the title is
heavy since the name Madonna is an
allusion to the biblical mother of Jesus Christ;
the contradiction vividly conveys the
interaction between the Onondaga and the Madonna. Onondaga woman portrayed
against Madonna is a clear juxtaposition of
culture and race which are wild and one which is modest. At the time of
colonization, Madonna represented the European culture while the Onondaga was
the natives who resisted the interaction. The poem is a depiction of what went
on during the interaction of different races of European and the native
Canadians during colonization. His description of the woman who represents the
fast Nation people is the instance that
explicitly shows the relations of different races. The narrator describes the woman who is from
Onondaga in a way that shows the
resistance the first Nation put against the Europeans who he gives the name
Madonna. Madonna is an illusion from the Bible
of Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ.
When Scott is describing the woman, from the first
nation as strong, in line one, then jumps ship and call the way she stands as
careless, ‘she stands full-throat and with careless
pose.’ This reveals the opinion the
writer has towards the first nation. As the line one depicts, the woman
representing the native Indians, was standing-throated with a careless pause, this shows that they, the
Indians were resistant agist the
Europeans domination but in one way or another were careless to resist, giving the narrator the conviction that they
will eventually bow to pressure. In the first two lines, Scott describes the
rebellious lips of the woman of Onondaga,
which is a suggestion of the practice to be
inherited from their forefathers. Her savage nature as described by the
poet proves that it is common among all the first nation people who are viewed
to be racially inferior. They resist any form of change and are forced to
adjust to the requirements of the
superior race of the European. The baby is portrayed to prove a race that is
facing extinction and a minority.
In the second line, Onondaga woman is depicted as a
‘weird race’; Scott must have compared the practices of the two different races
and concluded that the first nation ones were foreign. The connotation of the
term weird is that it something which is strange hence the practice of the
Onondaga was unnatural in the eyes of the other races. In the same line he describes the Onondaga as waning, this means that the Indians race in
Canada is tremendously decreasing as new race come up through intermarriage
with the European and association. The narrator continues to depict racial
abuse against the woman, as he applies words like ‘savage’ and ‘pagan’ given
that the other races which are European are viewed to be enlightened Christian. As the
native Indians carried out their practices, which were strange to the people
from outside their race, they were labeled savages as this depicted practices
which were strange to the outsiders. Most
of the natives then practiced totally
different religion from the ones professed by the Madonna; Scott chose to use
the term pagan, to depict a race that does not profess Christianity.
In the fifth line, the narrator tries to paint what
the mixture of blood from two different races means on the interaction of the
two races of Onondaga and Europeans thus, ‘Her blood is mingled with her
ancient foes.' From the line, the poet
views culture as an inherited quality inherent in one’s blood, this he thinks
can be changed through marriages and
education and so that the future children will have a culture that is accepted
by even the Madonna. The savage nature of
the previous line as revealed by the writer is, according to him, attached to
the blood of the natives and the only ways to deal with this is through
marriages with the Europeans and formal education. At this period and time, a race which was considered inferior were subjected to segregation and
judgments as long as the blood of the race still runs in your veins unmixed and pure. It could only be purified through a marriage which was deemed
to alter the characteristics which made the blood impure. On the 8th
line, Scott describes the life of the great grandfathers of the woman as ‘woes’
as shown, ‘Of feuds and forays and her father's woes.’ Going to the race of the Europeans who are viewed as superior, the author depicts that
the woman’s family that existed before also practiced the same savage behaviors which are unaccepted by their
standards. The native Indians were viewed
as a race that had gone was stuck with practices
that were supposed to be abandoned, but
they continued with them hence the advocate by the author to purify them
The image that comes to
your mind as depicted in the woman and
her son in the 11th line, ‘Paler than she’ is another stanza that
shows the relation between the natives
and the Europeans. From the official portrait, it is evident in the poem, the
son looks like a breed of the native and the Europeans. The woman who is
worried about the dying culture and a people ironically
has a baby sired by the Europeans who he views like
the ones killing their culture. From here we can conclude that intermarriages
and association with the outsiders had already started even though at a minimum
rate. In line 12, where the first
nation people are referred to as the ‘primal warriors’, shows how the race was
degrading by the colonialist who viewed themselves as the superior race.
Onondaga is referred in this instance as primal a term that shows a track stuck in an age that is backward by the
colonizers who tried to make them abandon their culture. All the undertakings
of the natives were viewed to be primal,
and their native heroes were termed as
primal for resisting the changes brought about by the new race.
silent interpretation of the poem believes that intermarriage was the only way
of considered to be important in the steps of civilizing the native people and
then assimilating the m into the racially
viewed European superior culture. According to the opinion of the Scott, the savagery behaviors of the native people
were passed to them by blood to the subsequent generation which hindered them
from actively participating in the civilized world.
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