Essays On The Black Robe

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.The culture clash at the heart of the story has left him in a perpetual state of doubt, though he continues going through the motions of his religion.

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Laforgue sets out on his journey firm in his devotion to God and unrelenting in his view of the Savages (Moore’s terminology—borrowed from the French—throughout the book) as little more than potential souls to be saved.This device allows Moore to balance his portrayals of the two cultures, as well as revealing the thoughts and feelings of several of the novel’s primary and secondary characters.Although the story offers multiple points of view, the principal figure in Moore’s tale is Father Paul Laforgue, a French Jesuit who is chosen to travel to the remote Huron village of Ihonatiria, where one of the two resident priests is rumored to be ill or dead.Just as the whites see the Native Americans' belief in a spirit world in nature as a childish superstition, the indigenous people view Christianity as nonsense.The baptismal rite and the prayers they hear the priests saying are a form of sorcery to them.Though the Algonquin are allies of the French, the manner in which they live is shocking to Laforgue—the communal habitations in which they sleep crowded together along with their dogs, the undisciplined way the children are allowed to act, the sexual freedom of the adults, and so on.The Algonquin, on the other hand, think the Europeans inferior both physically and mentally.Moore’s objective throughout the novel is to present each society in its own words, and he accomplishes this through the use of multiple points of view.Although the narrative remains in the third person, the viewpoint from which the action is perceived shifts from scene to scene.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.


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