4 years ago
Benedict's writing on the Dobuans makes the people in this culture seem villainous. I agree with Martha that a Dobuan would hardly agree with the description of their habits. Though Benedict is an anthropologist, who wants to look at the world with 'pristine eyes' it seems possible that she has misrepresented the Dobuans. In her words, "They are noted...for their dangerousness. They are said to be magicians who have diabolic power and warriors who halt at no treachery."(131) She continues "In Dobu it is secret and treacherous. The good man, the successful man, is he who has cheated another of his place." (142) "The incantations are remarkable for their malevolence and for the degree to which they embody the Dobuan belief that any man's gain is another's loss."(146) Each of these descriptions demonstrate that Benedict sees the Dobuans as not so noble savages. She goes on to express "Dobuan conventions exclude laughter and make dourness a virtue."(166) and to top it off "The Dobuan, therefore, is dour, prudish, and passionate, consumed with jealousy and suspicion and resentment."(168) To be honest I don't think the description could get any worse. What makes me wonder about her tainted view has to do with some of her descriptions that compare the Dobuan culture to our own (like Martha mentioned). One being "Material success in a community ridden with treachery and suspicion like Dobu must necessarily offer many contrasts to the economic goals that are recognized in our civilization."(153) There is also frequent mention of the service the Dobuans provide to the 'white recruiters'in the area. The poor treatment as indentured laborers is nothing compared to the harsh living conditions they typically experience at home in their Dobuan villages. Benedict paints this culture as severely savage and unequal/below ours and my question is why?