Response #1

Woroud Shuaib

Professor Steven Alvarez

English 255

15 February 2012


“The Mission”: Captivating the Indios.


“The Mission,” is a play that was used by Culture Clash to exploit and ridicule the stereotypes of Latinos.  In scene one the readers are introduced to father Serra who has his own mission, that is to make the Indios more humane. It was his vision to make the Indios have a better culture, religion, and to civilize them. He was one man that wiped about one million Indios by murder or disease. He held these Indios captive and was very violent to them. He was cruel and killed some, while others died because they had sickness. Moreover Serra had the ones he held captive for a purpose and even called them savages: “Father Serra loves his little savages. No Indian was buried before his time. And, by the grace of God, he set out to make these named creatures “Men of Reason” (Culture Clash 2440). In the play Father Serra refers to the Indios as “my little savages,” and “these little creatures” which belittles the Indios and also implies ownership and power over them. The term savages and creatures are not usually used for people. It demoralizes and dehumanizes them and it shows the readers that Serra believed these people were not civilized. Serra manifests cruelty and wants to make the Indios “Men of Reason”. He wanted to assimilate the Indios into his own culture, make the Indios civilized which includes educating the Indios, and teaching them Spanish. In addition, he was forcing them to follow Christianity because Serra believed they really had no religion.

Father Serra in “The Mission” thoroughly speaks about how he civilized the Indios by teaching them culture and the Spanish language. Serra believed that this language can make these savages social and make them fear God:

I took away their pagan dances and gave them true culture! La opera, el ballet los Gipsy Kings! I took away their primitive tongue and taught them Espanol, and you better speak Spanish now, my little ones, before English becomes the official language! I took away their religion; now they fear God! And, with a little help from the whip, the gun and the cross they respect me, despite my lisp (Culture Clash 2441).

Here it is stated that they the Indios received “true” culture because perhaps there previous culture wasn’t just as authentic as the European culture. It is interesting to point this out because who determines how “true” a culture is and what is considered a “true” culture? Whatever it might have been the Indios lacked that and father Serra insisted in giving them a better culture and also a better language. He forced them to use Spanish instead of their native language. In addition, Serra adds that he has “took away their religion” and gave them a better religion which involves fearing God. This suggests that the Indios never feared God and no religion other than Christianity is considered a “real” religion”. He then goes on and mentions how he has help from the whip and gun which implies that he physically beats them if they disagree or don’t want to obey certain things. Lastly Serra reveals that he has a lisp and this lisp shows that he his superior. Having the lisp shows the status that father Serra has because only those who master the Spanish language have this lisp. It is evident that Serra believed he has civilized these Indios by giving them a new language, a better culture and even a better religion but while he was doing this he dehumanized them which is such a paradox.

Culture Clash “The Mission”. The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature. 1st ed. Ed. Ilan Stavans, Edna Acosta-Belen, Harold Augenbraum, Maria Herrera-Sobek, Rolando Hinojosa, Gustavo Perez Firmat. New York: W.W Norton & Company, 2011. 2440-2443. Print.

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