Compare Columbus’ descriptions of the islands’ plants, natural features, and native inhabitants in the first and second letter featured in The Norton Anthology of American Literature. What kind of language does he use in the first letter? How is it different in the second? What does Columbus seem preoccupied with? How else might we account for the different versions of the new world depicted in these letters? Consider the political project each letter was intended to serve. Why might Columbus insist that “Española is a marvel” in the first letter, and then portray it as an “exhausted,” unhealthy place populated by “cruel savages” in his later account?
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