Essays On The Black Robe

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The white man's inability to see that the animals and trees have intelligence and can communicate with humans is an example of this defect as the Native Americans view it.

The question is posed why many Europeans seem quite willing to adopt the ways of the indigenous people once they live among them.

Laforgue's young assistant Daniel is in love with one of the Algonquin girls and comes to live with her, to Laforgue's dismay.

As the story develops, the central point seems to be the inability of each side to understand the other's way of life and belief systems.

In the first chapter alone, Moore incorporates four points of view, including that of the famed French explorer, Samuel de Champlain, who heads the Quebec settlement.

Later chapters are told from the viewpoint of several of the Indians, thus presenting their own interpretations of the Jesuits’ actions and their tribal beliefs in spirits of the natural world.As a dismayed Laforgue sees his young change rapidly adopting the customs of the Algonkin, his own safety is threatened when the tribal chief dreams that the priest’s presence is a danger to his people.Although Laforgue and his journey provide the central thread for the novel’s narrative structure, Moore balances its point of view between the Jesuits, who refer to the Indians as “the Savages,” a term that accurately describes the French view of tribal life, and the Algonkin themselves, who regard the Jesuits, or “Black-robes,” as unnatural witches, ignorant of the powerful spirits which the Indians see at work in the natural world.But when a devastating illness has struck the Huron village, the Indian leaders have no way of knowing if the priest's ceremonies will help them or harm them.When the Huron decide in favor of baptism, Father Laforgue finds even as he begins carrying it out that his faith in his own religion has been shaken.Moore's powerful story shows both a cultural and physical conquest in embryo, so to speak, at this early stage of contact between Europeans and indigenous Americans.BLACK ROBE was inspired by actual accounts of Jesuit priests working among the North American Indians in the 1600’s.Among the French, the Jesuits have as their sole purpose the conversion of the Native Americans to Christianity.The French, including the priests, view the Native Americans as "savages," and this is the term used for them throughout the narrative.For Laforgue, the assignment offers the possibility of martyrdom, or even sainthood, at the hands of the people the French call the Savages, and he embraces the journey’s dangers with a mixture of fear and joy.Yet, his feeling for his Algonkin companions and guides on the trip is initially one of revulsion.


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