Sean Persaud’s Blog Response to Maria Martin’s Captivity Narrative

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.” [149] 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.

Disscussant Questions:

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?

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17 thoughts on “Sean Persaud’s Blog Response to Maria Martin’s Captivity Narrative

  1. Sapan Patel

    Great Post,
    My personal thought of the authors use of imagery is simple and sweet i think the imagery used in the narrative was impactful. The way the element was used help me as a reader to understand what Maria was going through. In my mind i was recreating each thing i read to make the narrative come to life, showing that the imagery used was used very well. Now to your second question, i think Martin attempting to escape was not a good idea. Her having that greed for freedom just in the end caused more suffering and downfall. If she just been calm and patient in the end she would have been home and not have been in the situation she was left in

  2. kashifx94

    Hello Sean I really like what you have wrote.

    I agree that Martin uses imagery in her narrative so the readers can understand her pain. It was a good idea to use imagery because it helped me understand all the hardship and struggles Martin had to go through,I was able to imagine the scenes in my head as if I was watching a movie. I believe Martin causes more problems by trying to run away. If she did not run away her captivity would have been better, because if a slave gets caught trying to run away, they would surely be in more trouble. A slave might even get killed trying to run away.

  3. superpanda

    Nice post Sean 😀
    I agree with you when you stated that Maria had given up hope entirely as that’s exactly what happened. The pain of not only being caught trying to escape, but the torment and agony of losing her one and only friend, resulted in this. Instead of absolute surrender, I believe it’s more appropriate to say that there was nothing else she could have done. I agree with the fact that Maria uses intense imagery in her narrative and it does indeed give us a better understanding and concept of what she went through. As we read this narrative centuries after being written, we cannot possibly fathom her misery, so she uses imagery to express her feelings. Yes I believe it was her fault because even if she wasn’t the one who inaugurated the plan, she took part in it of her own will. That was enough of a reason to charge her guilty and punish her back then. Even if she didn’t try to escape, I honestly don’t think her treatment or captivity would’ve been better.

  4. zsaidi1

    Great post,
    I do agree that Maria’s use of imagery allows the reader to feel her pain and have a sense of what she suffered. Her narrative vividly describes what she saw and how she was treated for example, “they began the barbarous work of chaining me; an enormous collar was fixed round my neck, and another still larger round my waste [sic]…” She shows how she completely lost her freedom and her words allow the reader to imagine what she wwent through.
    I do not think it was her fault. Life changing decisions like this one always come with a risk, you’ll either succeed or fail, and for her unfortunately it failed. She tried steering her faith to happiness and freedom and her luck changed, bringing her back to an even worse condition.

  5. Aisha Tahir

    Good post Sean,
    I agree with you that the use of imagery in this narrative gave a very clear picture of the sufferings she had to go through. I felt the fears that Martin had to face. The bitter and harsh circumstances could not have been better demonstrated with the use of this literary technique.
    As for your second question I don;t think that she was accountable for the extreme conditions that she had to live in. As a prisoner, it would be my very thought to attempt for an escape regardless of the after math. And supposedly even if she didn’t try to fight for her freedom she would still have her spirit broken in the dungeon.
    -Aisha Tahir

  6. bridanielle

    Excellent post Sean

    I agree that Martin uses imagery in her narrative to have the reader experience her pain. When I was reading her narrative, I started to feel really bad for her. Martin wanted the reader to understand that this was her most traumatic memory. Answering your second question, I don’t think that it was fully her fault. The food deliverer persuaded her to escape and this brought her hope to escape. But then again she knew that there would be a brutal punishment if she got caught. If she didn’t try to escape she wouldn’t have gone through the agonizing pain of being locked up in the dungeon with a fever and molded food.
    -Brianna Veit

  7. sachindeodat

    Interesting point brought up in your post Sean,
    These two examples that you used really help draw out some important moments in the text. I agree with the idea that this narrative tried to bring the reader as close as possible to the experiences that Maria Martin had went through. The amount of imagery used in the text is enough to give the reader almost a full understanding of what she experienced. I say “almost” because we as readers might understand the physical circumstances, however we could never really relate to the magnitude of her torture. It would most likely be difficult to relate a point in our lives that may compare to the cruelty of this torture. I do believe though that this narrative used imagery in several ways to bring the reader into the story. As for your second question, I think that the fact she tried to escape was the best decision, but she should have waited for a better opportunity to escape. In the perspective of a slave master, I do think she had some fault to try and escape but most of the plan was carried out by her assistant so most of the blame was on him. However in my perspective I think she had every reason to try to escape. Even if she was placed into a better cell, captivity can still be torture.

    – Sachin Deodat

  8. fira987

    Great Post Sean,
    Yes I agree with everyone that Martin is using imagery in order to express the feelings, the scene and the thoughts of the main character. By using imagery the reader can put himself in the shoes of the character and go through what she went at least in his mind. Without imagery its hard to imagine how she was kept, what she was feeling , just hard to imagine that scene in front of everyones eyes.
    I dont think that it was her fault of living in dungeon for two years. No one knows his fate, his future. She was trying to win her liberty , she wasn’t expecting this happening to her. Yes, if she didn’t try to escape maybe her life would’ve been better or get worser . Something could have happen too, I believe it was her fate. She suffered for two years by living in the dungeon chained , however at the end she won her liberty.
    -Fira Khalim-zade

  9. Stephen

    Good post Sean,
    I agree with you that Martin uses imagery in her narrative to better show her feelings towards what she was going through. Imagery in this case helps the reader understand what Martin felt and what she was thinking while this tragedy happened to her. Without it we probably would not have gotten the full point Martin was trying to make which was that she was innocent and had to suffer greatly for no reason.
    For your second question I believe it wasn’t her fault and if she would not have escaped she probably would’ve still been imprisoned in the dungeon.

    -Stephen Peralta

  10. cblackman100

    Interesting post,
    The effect that this narrative had on the readers was greatly enhanced by the imagery that was used. Maria’s use of imagery gave the narrative a sense of authenticity and conviction. The readers were able to have compassion for Maria, and watched as she endured her torment. Maria states that the dungeon was gloomy, and often she got sick and had headaches. Her description of the dungeon created an even greater sense of confinement. As shows on pg. 7, when Maria states “It was built of rough stone, and the walls were about 8 feet in breadth, it contained but one small window, with large iron gratings, and which affqfrded so little light that’I could hardly discern an object four feet from me”.
    In regards to the second question, it’s not entirely MAria’s fault that she had to be confined to the dungeon for the fact that it wasn’t her idea to escape in the first place. It was her mates. She just went along with it. It’s true that she has a mind of her own and she could’ve denied the invitation to escape, but who in their right mind would rather stay a bird in a cage and deny their right to freedom? If MAria didn’t try to escape indeed her captivity would’ve been better, but no matter in what condition a slave may be in, as long as there’s the fact that they’re a slave, no living condition can ease their pain.

    –> Chelsea Blackman

  11. sarahgewirtz

    Excellent post,
    For your first question I believe that Martin uses imagery in order for the reader to experience her suffering. I also agree the scene that moved me was when she was placed in the dungeon. The usage of her words painted a picture in my head and made me feel Martin’s distress. Martin says she “scarcely” had enough “strength to lift the water jug to [her] mouth. I thought this was a powerful line and it made me realize Martin’s pain was in fact reality. As for your second question I believe that if Martin had not tried to escape, her captivity would have been better. The friend that she made was good to her by giving her food and clothing. Martin’s “feeling of false hope” arrived when she tried to escape.
    -Sarah Gewirtz

  12. faizalh

    Great Post,
    In response to the first question, i believe that the use of imagery was extremely important in this passage. It allowed the audience to fully imagine and comprehend the situations she was put in. I personally was able to imagine the narrative which means that the use of imagery was very effective and it conveyed the messages of pain that were targeted toward the audience. In response to the second question, i think Martin should have not tried to escape. Her greed for more freedom led to her downfall and suffering. If she would have been patient her life could have been much better in the long run and she would have been able to go home.

  13. ridda819

    Great post,
    I really like how you brought up imagery in your post because that was one of the ways that Martin connected with the reader. Like you said Martin not only wanted us to read but “feel what it’s like having everything taken from her” I think without imagery we would not have been able to understand the narrative as well as we did.
    In response to your second question, I think if Martin did not try to escape her captivity would have been better. She would have continued to live in the other cell where she was given coffee, loaf of bread and a slice of ham. I believe it was her fault, and that if she had remained patient she would have been taken back to her home country without facing all the hardships in the dungeon that she was given as a punishment.

    Ridda Sheikh

  14. alexandraamador1015

    Nice post Sean,

    To answer your first question I do believe Martin uses imagery to express the agony she was feeling in order for the readers to empathize with her. I think by the reading believe able to have a mental image of the situations Martin was going through made the narrative appear more realistic, along with making it easy for the reader to relate. I believe if Martin just simply stated her experiences like, “this happened here and that happened after,” it wouldn’t have reached the readers with such a deep meaning and would’ve just made us move on to the next paragraph.

    Moreover, as you stated in your response Martin did want “to create a sense of realism” and by using imagery she was able to do just that.

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