As discussed in class, by carrying a sacred symbol such as a cross, one is becoming the Axis Mundi and creating an Imago Mundi. this was the role of priests in colonization. Priests were involved in this process rather than military in order to sacralize the “New World”; by them being there, they are conquering the land and proclaiming it as God’s land. As it is said at the beginning of the movie, the “Fathers are soldier of God”, and they were not only there to sacrilize that profane land, but also to educate the Natives, also referred to as the salvages. The French consider the New World profane and the Natives salvages because the do not follow the French’s principles, moralities, ethics, traditions and such, and because they are not educated on what the French consider to be important. The land is profane because there is an absence of God.
However, it is important to note that just as the French saw the Natives as salvages, uneducated and strange, the Natives also considered the French salvages, uneducated and strange. Thus, what is worth knowing and educating is subjective. When they met the first tribe and were asked if the Frenchmen were intelligent, the Natives responded no.
As most “modern men” of that time, Father LaForgue considered the Natives as ignorants. The modern man, for the Frenchmen, is that who is educated , who follows God, knows how to read and write, or at least knows that such things exist, that live in a certain way with a certain order. Since the Natives had no knowledge of these whatsoever, they were considered inferior and that they needed to be educated, something that was extremely important to Father LaForgue.
In Father LaForgue’s perspective, natives are not true Christians because they do not believe in the same God, Paradise and salvation as he does, and because they do not praise the same things. He says the Devil roams the hearts of the natives. However, in Daniel’s eyes, Father LaForgue is wrong since he does see the good in the natives, that although they are not Christians perse, they love and care for each other, forgive things that the French would never forgive, share everything because they love each other more than things, among other examples. Thus, Daniel believes they behave like true christians, which he thinks is the most important rather than changing them.