Apr 30, 2020 in Informative

Christopher Columbus

When biographical accounts of Christopher Columbus are compared in Howard Zinn’s account of his experiences to what is portrayed in a book meant for elementary children, then stark contrasts tend to emerge between the two. However, it is not all entirely different since there are also similarities which tend to arise between the two accounts. However, it is important to find out what the differences between the two are and the reasons why it is portrayed in that manner. 

The children’s book that depicts Columbus, in this case, is titled “Columbus Arriving in the Americas” and has been written by Dioscoro Puebla. An analysis of the book reveals the glaring differences that are present between the two accounts which were given by the authors. The disparity between the two accounts is unfortunate since the accurate representation of Columbus is omitted. The first thing that is apparently left out in the kids’ book is how Columbus treated the Tainos when he and his crew arrived onshore. The work that is done by Puebla explicitly omits how receptive the natives were to the Spaniards and how poorly they were treated in return. His book does not show how the Tainos were captured and ordered to point out where they had stored gold when they came into contact. Moreover, the book totally omits the fact that Christopher Columbus used the natives as slaves. It was an important point that needed to be highlighted so that the reader could understand the cruel side of the renowned explorer. Also, his brutal methods of getting gold from the Tainos were omitted in Puebla’s account. He did not tell the readers how Columbus would force the native men to work in gold mines for up to ten months without seeing their families. Finally, the children’s account of Columbus apparently leaves out the devastating effects that the explorer had on the Tainos. For instance, by 1650, their population had been extinguished due to the cruel treatment they received, and the land was only left with Europeans.

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The motives that Columbus had in the children’s book to what was portrayed in Howard Zinn’s account are entirely different. In the book, the author does not explain the kind of wealth that the explorer was after. It only explains that he was going after riches while his main aim was to get gold. Also, the book portrays Columbus as a hero in his country who was only doing what was best in the name of the crown. However, it does not explain the fact that he failed in his primary role of getting gold back to the motherland. When he did not get the precious mineral, he decided to fill up the ships going back to Spain with slaves. He rounded up the natives and sent them back to his country as presents to the King. However, sending back the slaves was the last resort of a failed voyage. In the kid’s book by Dioscoro Puebla, Columbus is described as being a man who is only wanted to do right by the crown and would do so in an amicable manner. In the book, there is no mention of violence which was employed by the explorer. However, Columbus was anything but peaceful using all possible means to see through his ambitions regardless of the consequences.

When one reads Christopher Columbus’ biography by Dioscoro Puebla, it makes the reader be in support of the explorer. It begins by crediting him for being the person who discovered the American continent yet some people were already living there. It starts by highlighting the plight that Columbus and his brother Bartholomew went through before they set out to sea. They needed a new route that would take them straight and required to be funded for the long voyage ahead. Therefore, to accomplish the latter, they first enlisted the help of the Portuguese King who turned them down before getting aid from the Spanish Crown. All the trouble hat they encounter before the voyage begins makes the reader support the explorer on his voyage subconsciously. During the voyage, his men again threatened mutiny but were able to calm them down. All the trouble that he went through before setting foot on the American continent was finally repaid when in August 1492 he finally set foot on the unknown continent. According to the book, it is the culmination of many events that Columbus went through in his life.

The illustration found in the book “Columbus Arriving in the Americas” highlights the fact that Columbus and his enterprise were quite satisfied in their American expedition. One picture on the book reveals the explorer together with his entourage on the shore of the island entering holding up the Spanish flag. The natives who are depicted in the same image are hiding behind bushes in the shadows in fear of the foreigners who have just arrived. However, readings suggest that the scenario depicted in the picture never took place. Immediately the natives saw their guests coming, they quickly dove into the water and swam towards their vessels to greet them. They were overjoyed and ready to share the little resources that they had with them. The publishers of the children’s book want to create a belief that the natives were afraid of the newcomers which in this case was not true. They are portrayed as savage people and it is a false representation of the residents. Therefore, the children’s book gives the idea that the natives were savages.

The false Columbus/Taino encounter which is depicted in the book is to ensure that the good name of Christopher Columbus is maintained. The explorer is credited with the discovery of the American continent which paved the way for further European exploration of the land. In the United States, October 10th is set aside as a day that celebrates the explorer’s achievements. Therefore, he is widely revered and respected for his deeds and s a symbol of nation pride. Therefore, children cannot be exposed to the true acts of a man who is nationally celebrated for his deeds since they will develop split loyalty. They want children to believe that the country they are growing up in was founded from peace and sobriety. It goes on to teach them a valuable lesson that they need to treat people who are different from them with the utmost respect. Unfortunately, Columbus did not adhere to the same moral code depicted in the children's book.

The first group of people that would want to portray an inaccurate representation of history is the government. They realize that Native Americans were unfairly treated when early Europeans first settled in the continent. They lost their loved ones, property, and suffered psychological damage. If the full extent of the brutality was to be revealed to the young generation of Native Americans, then they will grow up seeking revenge and reparations for damages. Numerous administrations have had to deal with the problem of compensating this group of people and having the next generation learn about the horrific experiences of their ancestors would not help the cause. Currently, the government is set to pay out close to $500 million as compensation. Also, people of European ancestry would want to change the facts of history to reduce the amount of guilt they feel for their forefather’s misdeeds. A misrepresentation of history would give them a reference point of the goods that Christopher Columbus did.


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