Most Memorable Story

Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca was a Spanish soldier who went to the New World in the early 16th century as part of an expedition. After spending eight years exploring and trying to survive in what is now the southern part of the United States, he returned to Spain and wrote down, from memory, his adventures, hence the title of his work-Adventures by Cabeza de Vaca.

In the account, he relates how after being separated from most of his party, he and some other men had to survive by living with various Native American tribes.  In most tribes they were made slaves. In others Cabeza de Vaca was able to become a trader. In yet others he and his men were revered because of their special “powers”.

These “powers” were their ability to cure sick indians. They would go to the sick person, pray over them and the person would miraculously heal. The indians of course were in awe. Cabeza and his friends just prayed that God would allow them to continue doing this so that they could survive.

To me, the part of the account that struck me most was his faith and trust in God. He really had faith that whatever happened, God would protect him, and He did. Cabeza still needed to take care of himself, but incredibly, through many dangerous adventures, he never died. Cabeza de Vaca lived to tell the story and then became the governor of modern-day Argentina. He died in 1540 in Seville, Spain.

Gods of the Copybook Headings

The Gods of the Copybook Headings is a poem written by Rudyard Kipling in 1919. It relates the effect of public opinion upon copybooks and vice versa. Beginning with the first paragraph, the Gods of the Copybook Headings outlast the public opinion, or Gods of the Marketplace, as the latter changes, rises and falls.

“As I pass through my incarnations in every age and race,

I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.

Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,

And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.”

The poem continues to say that although the marketplace can seem to rule the copybooks, Continue reading

A Golden Hope

“Why did Crusoe take the coins off the ship?”

Robinson Crusoe is the story of a man that was ship-wrecked on an island, alone, for years. When he first swam to the island he built a raft to transport as many goods as he could from the wrecked ship back to the island. After several days of getting the necessary food, clothes and tools, he came across a chest of gold coins. At first knowing they were useless, he decided to leave them to sink. On second thought, he brought them along. Why?

I think there are two potential reasons, the first of which is the most improbable; the second of which I think is the true reason.

Crusoe may have taken them off the ship because Continue reading

Storms At Sea

I first read Robinson Crusoe when I was about twelve. I found it a bit boring, but I liked the part he spent on the island. Now, reading it again I can actually appreciate the beginning of the book—the part that forms the character. Defoe wrote the book very well and developed the character into someone we can relate to. His struggles and joys make the story.

The book begins with Crusoe living with his parents. He feels a great desire to go out and have an adventure. He doesn’t want to live the mundane life that his parents want him to lead. They give him advice against leaving and throwing away a secure life. He runs away, in effect, and gains passage aboard a ship. After a few mishaps and several mini-adventures aboard different ships, he finds himself a household slave. He manages to gain his freedom with a young boy. They sail south along the African coast, until a Portuguese ship rescues them. All along this time, Crusoe regrets, repents and reaffirms his resolve for adventure in turn. He regrets disobeying his parents, yet he never quite goes back. Finally, on one voyage the ship capsizes in a storm and he finds himself the sole survivor on an island. And there the story really “begins.” Continue reading