Bartolomé de Las Casas Questions and Answers

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How did Bartolome de Las Casas characterize the native population? How do you think they would have responded to this description? 

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Alec Cranford eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In short, Bartolome de Las Casas is an example of an early and very influential reformer, one who viewed Native Americans with empathy and humanity. But in many ways, Las Casas adheres to a "noble savage" trope that was already common in European literary depictions of Native Americans. He describes them as "innocent Sheep," people devoid of "Craft, Subtlety and Malice."

Of course, there is a sense in which Las Casas, in describing them in this way, denies them their humanity, portraying them as passive, weak figures. But it is important to note that he did so in order to juxtapose them with the Spaniards, who he consistently refers to as "Christians" in order to dramatize their brutality and greed. They treated the natives not simply as animals but as the "most abject dung and filth of the Earth," murdering them indiscriminately, stealing their wealth, and—perhaps most abominable to Las Casas—denying them the ability to become Christians.

This is actually another key point that Las...

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