Native Guard Tretheway
Submitted By jrcamero
Tainted History in Natasha Tretheway’s Native Guard
Passion, precision, and technique are all synonyms used to describe Natasha Tretheway’s Native Guard that take the reader through the heart of the south and the heart of the family. This essay will examine the contradictions of (African) American life, especially concerning themes of history and memory. “Southern History”, “Incident”, and “South” will demonstrate these contradictions of (African) American history and memory. Serving as a scribe, Tretheway writes these poems for those people history has muted and closed the veil on. Southern History, Incident, and South; poems from section two of her book, depict racism during slavery and the Civil War, which is a part of forgotten history in the eyes of “Americans.” These historic experiences have not been given the proper examination, discussion, or acknowledgement. Tretheway refuses to allow African American history to remain as footnotes and brings out the real “American” history in her collection of poems. Tretheway’s personal experience growing up as a mulatto in the South is seen in her poem “Southern History”. This poem shows that even after more than a hundred years after the Civil War, history is still tainted. History is imperfect and at times intentionally false as textbooks in this time period were used to misinform students; keeping them bound and restricted from the real history of America. As Tretheway’s teacher presents his lesson to the class, he quotes the text saying “Before the war, they were happy…./The slaves were clothed, fed, / and better off under a master’s care”(Line 1-4) Using this as an example as tainted history, the textbook neglects the harsh, brutal, and inhumane conditions slaves had to endure during their time in slavery. All slaves wanted to be free and no longer bound...