The Black Robe Analysis – Tristan Plasencia

Tristan Plasencia

-Priests were involved in the enterprise of colonization because they were the highest rank of the church. Priests were viewed as holy figures that possessed divine powers which the French believed could be used to convert the Native Americans to Catholicism.
-Once the colonizers reach the New World, they feel entitled to make it their own and sacralize it according to their own religious beliefs. With this being said, the colonizers established a “church” with a cross next to it to symbolize their religion. They turn the unknown into the known by making it “holy”.
-The “New World” is profane because it is unfamiliar to the colonists and lacks the basic elements that would give it religious value, such as churches accompanied with crosses.
-In terms of the French, knowledge and power comes from establishing a personalized relationship with god. You must surrender yourself to god and follow his laws in order to obtain “power” through the religion. Everything is spiritual and it is all about the individual’s relationship with god. In terms of the natives’ religion, power and knowledge comes from your understanding of the natural world around you. Understanding your surroundings will allow you to find food and other necessities for life, which relates to both knowledge and power. The native religion also puts emphasis on dreams, as they believe that dreams can dictate what will happen to you in the physical world.
-Father Loforgue view the natives and their beliefs as childish. He believes that anyone that does not accept the Catholic religion as their own will be condemned to hell. He has no interest in listening or accommodating to the natives way of life, he is there solely to convert them to his religion. Daniel, on the other hand, has a more accepting attitude towards the natives and their religious beliefs. Daniel falls in love with one of the natives and begins to embrace their religious laws. At one point he tells Father Loforgue about an afterlife and when Father Laforgue tells him that’s nonsense Daniel replies, “Is it any harder to believe than a paradise where we all sit on clouds and look at God?”
-Laforgue represents the modern “man” by conducting his life closely intertwined with his beliefs. He stays true to what he believes in and only seeks progression when it comes to assisting others.
-Father Laforgue’s understanding of conversion is more about right action. As a priest he takes pride in following the laws of his religion and thinks that to reach the ultimate destination (heaven), you must live a pure life. This can be examined when Father Laforgue whips himself in the back with a tree branch after witnessing Daniel getting intimate with a Native American.
-The Natives and the French basically see each other the same way. The Natives view the French as intruders trying to impose a bogus religion upon their people and land. They view the priest as a demon. The French view the Natives as savages, ignorant to the catholic religion and needed to be “domesticated” by the French.
-The consequences of conversion for the Natives would, in their eyes, ultimately be death and shame brought upon their tribe. By converting, they are throwing away all of their previous very strong beliefs and adopting a whole new ideology.
-It is so important for Father Laforgue to convert the natives because he feels as though it is his duty as a priest to “save” these Natives and spread the word of his god. He views the conversion process as an obligation that he holds as a priest.

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