In Maria Martin’s Captivity Narrative, Martin discusses her gruesome captivity and suffering on the Barbary Coast. Martin uses imagery in her narrative to make the reader experience her thoughts, pain, suffering, and life during her imprisonment. From the moment of seeing the corsair filled with Algerians, Martin says,” The sail in chase was soon within hail, and proved to be an Algerine corsair, armed and full of men. Our distracted feelings at this moment, can be better immagined [sic] than described—as we possessed but feeble means to defend ourselves, to sur- render quietly our persons and property was the only alternative.”  Martin discusses her feelings about the impending doom that awaits her and doesn’t know what to do. She wants the reader to feel what she was feeling. She wants to create a sense of realism for the reader for them to not only understand but to feel what its like having everything taken from her, the duties she had to do, the rotten food she had to eat, the feeling of false hope, and the suffering in the dungeon.
One scene that really stuck out to me was her captivity in the dungeon for two years. She talks about how she had little furniture, no sunlight, and having to wear iron chains all around her so that she couldn’t move. She had fevers, headaches and was weak enough that she couldn’t even lift the water jug to her mouth and eat mouldy food. To me, this shows absolute surrender. She has been suffering for so long, she has no energy to complete absolutely any thing. She felt that she would rather die than endure this much suffering and how she may never experience liberty again.Her morale, her health, and her dignity has hit a low point and this scene really upsets me thinking about how terrible and demeaning this would be if I were in her shoes.
1) Do you agree that Martin uses imagery in her narrative to have the reader also experience her pain? Why or why not?
2) Because Martin tried to escape, she was forced to live in the dungeon. Do you think it was her fault? If she didn’t try to escape do you think her captivity would have been better?