Bartolomè de Las Casas, "Of the Island of Hispaniola" (1542)

Topics: Bartolomé de las Casas, Population history of American indigenous peoples, Hispaniola Pages: 1 (289 words) Published: March 7, 2013
Bartolomè de Las Casas, "Of the Island of Hispaniola" (1542) Identify and explain the metaphor that Las Casas uses to describe the Spaniards’ treatment of the people of Hispaniola. What does the use of this metaphor suggest about Las Casas’ attitude toward the Spaniards and the people of Hispaniola? Bartolome de Las Casas compares the native people to sheep, describing them as "...without malice or duplicity, most obedient, most faithful, the most humble, most patient, most peaceful and calm, without strife nor tumults; not wrangling, nor querulous, as free from uproar, hate and desire of revenge as any in the world..." He calls the "Christians" wolves, tigers and hungry lions ready to attack and torture them.Las Casas gives a graphic and detailed description of how the "Christians" tortured and murdered men, children, pregnant women and even babies without mercy, asking Spain to aid in their protection It's very clear that Bartolome de Las Casas feels deep sympathy for the indigenous people and expresses his pain and indignation toward the "Christians" for their crimes against them. Identify and discuss the irony of the behavior of “The Christians” toward “the gentle sheep”. These men who called themselves "Christians" wanted to convert the natives to Christianity, a religion that teaches love, mercy and compassion, yet they were murdering the people in cold blood. These "sheep" who had the qualities of character the "Christians" should have had were treated like animals. Another point of irony is that the "Christians" believed they were honoring the apostles and Jesus Christ himself by burning the natives alive, thirteen at a time. It's very difficult to understand how wrong ideas blind people and allow them to commit such horrendous crimes in the name of God.
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