I think that Anderson’s book, Chain Her by One Foot, is a well researched look at the often ignored subject of Native American women. However, given the narrow subject on which Anderson writes, I think that her book is better suited to upper division undergraduate or graduate students
rather than the general public. The book is also very dry and not the best suited
book for a pleasurable read. However, Anderson does an excellent job of providing a detailed
background to the situation and an explanation of the societies that both groups, Native American and French, came from.
Anderson does a good job of providing
a background on the Jesuits and French Society. She explains how the French came
to North America,
how New France was
founded, and what the French sought to gain from it. She also tells of the founding
of the Jesuit order, their mission in New France, and a description of their biases. In particular,
she explains the sexism that was prevalent in France and in the Jesuits. The inferiority of women was
a basic belief of Western Society at this time. Its roots can be traced as far
back as Aristotle. Aristotle was a key influence on St. Thomas Aquinas, and Aquinas
influenced writers of the 16th and 17th Centuries. She
also explains why the Jesuits were so focused on the sacrament of marriage. An
important reason was that they wished to control the children, and if the parents are married in the Christian tradition then
their children will follow suit.
The book is very well researched. Anderson provides a bountiful number of in-text citations
for the reader. She also provides notes, a rather extensive bibliography, and
an index. The in-text citations allow the reader to locate exactly where Anderson found the material that
she is using. This is very useful for a reader who wishes to pursue additional
research on this topic. Anderson has also found four pictures to include in her
book. I found the use of imagery good because it helps the reader to picture
what is being described, and it is also a break from her prose. However, I find
that she could have done more to find additional images, and to space them throughout the book rather then having them clustered
in one small section.
The book is organized in a reasonable manner. Anderson begins her work by focusing
on the Jesuits and their views towards women. Although Anderson structures her book well,
I would have approached the subject differently. I think that it would have been
better to describe the lifestyle of the Native Americans first then describe the Jesuits.
I also think that describing the Native Americans earlier in the book would make the book more interesting since the
main focus is on Native Americans rather than the Jesuits.
Overall, I think that Anderson has done a good job in writing a well researched and detailed work. I would recommend it to anyone seriously interested in the subject of the subjugation of Native Women by
HIST 202 (A) Jesuits in New France
Mount Saint Mary's University