Cabeza de Vaca, who was a Spanish explorer of

de Vaca, who was a Spanish explorer of the new world, lived among various
Native American tribes for eight years before he returned to Spanish
civilization. In his quest to survive, Cabeza de Vaca overcame prejudices
against Native Americans and formed close relationships with the different tribes
he encountered. “The Relation of Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca” by Álvar Núñez
Cabeza de Vaca theme is that we all can commit good and evil acts. Cabeza de
Vaca demonstrates in his narrative that “good” people can be savage, and
someone who is often considered “evil” like the Native Americans can be

de Vaca’s use of first-person narration helps to share his personal experiences
and secrets with the reader. In the closing of the narrative, Cabeza de Vaca dives
into the complicated relationship between the Native Americans and the
Christians. As the Native Americans leave Cabeza de Vaca behind with promise
from the Christians permitting them to rebuild their towns. Cabeza de Vaca
offers his opinion on how untrustworthy the Christians are when he writes, “I
solemnly swear that if they Natives have not done so rebuilt their towns it
is the fault of the Christians” (De Vaca 35). This statement supports the theme
by not only illustrating Cabeza de Vaca’s strong disapproval of the Christians
and their selfishness but how the Christians appear to be praying on the
helplessness of the Native Americans. Therefore, illustrating the Christians
can exhibit savage behavior.

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The last two paragraphs of the narrative, “The Relation of
Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca” explains how the naivety of the Native Americans in
the face of Christian hostility further supports the theme. Cabeza de Vaca
declares that “we often misjudge the motives of men,” and continues by
clarifying that, “we thought we had effected the Indians liberty, when the
Christians were but poising to pounce” (De Vaca 35). Here Cabeza de Vaca grows
angry as he laments about how he fought for the freedom of the Native
Americans, but it is soon revealed that his attempt has been useless because
the Christians already have a plan to neutralize the Native Americans efforts. Cabeza
de Vaca infers that the Christians believe they are superior to the Native
Americans but are in fact misguided and far worse than those they claim are
savages (De Vaca 35). Moreover, the use of the alliterations
“motives of men” and “poising to pounce” in this line further emphasize the
theme of the entire narrative by characterizing the Christians as predators and
the Native Americans as prey (De Vaca 35).

de Vaca’s diction or word choice can be characterized as having a specific
connotative meaning and assist in deciphering the overall theme. Cabeza de
Vaca’s consistent use of the phrase “The Christians” and “The Indians” or “The
Natives” has an important effect that emphasizes the distinction between Cabeza
de Vaca and “The Christians” as well as Cabeza de Vaca and “The Indians/Natives”
(De Vaca 35). This is important to the underlying theme of the narrative
because it shows the enormous conflict within himself about his own identity and
these two opposing forces who turned out to have a more complex character. Furthermore, by referring to the Spanish as “The
Christians” he makes it clear that he is not a part of their group (De
Vaca 35). Although they share the same faith the
distinction of “the Christians” from himself infers that he has come to respect
the Native Americans and subsequently sees a distinction in the way “the
Christians” and “The Indians” carry themselves (De Vaca 35). Conversely, Cabeza de Vaca’s portrayal and unusual
respect for the Native Americans further demonstrates the compassion and bond
that developed between the Native Americans and Cabeza de Vaca over the course
of his isolation from his fellow countrymen.

de Vaca’s use of first-person narration, alliterations, and specific word
choice creates a well-rounded theme of the narrative that not all people are
innately good or evil. In the last two paragraphs, Cabeza de Vaca’s explains
the final encounter with both the Native Americans and the Christians. In his
quest to survive, Cabeza de Vaca’s account shows the complexity of character
and how prejudices can often be misleading.