Micah Sotolongo-Miranda: Miami as Text 2023

About Me

My name is Micah Sotolongo-Miranda, and I am a senior at Florida International University. I graduate in the Summer after the Study Abroad to France, and after, I hope to use my education to explore new and exciting opportunities, and eventually pursue higher education such as a Masters, or PhD. I am a double major towards achieving a bachelor’s in science for Marine Biology, as well as a bachelor’s in arts for Chemistry, as well as studying under the Honors College at FIU. My passions, other than the sciences, is the arts. I love to express myself in any way I can, whether it is singing, dancing, drawing, playing with makeup, or changing my hair, I love to be creative and get my hands dirty. I used to be an e-board member of the Honors College A Capella group Heartbeats, and I am now an e-board member of Lynx Dance Co, a K-pop dance group through the Korean Culture Club. I also love nature and travelling, which is why I think Study Abroad is such an amazing opportunity. I am so excited to be a part of this class, and I cannot wait to explore Miami and France through Study Abroad.

France Spring Encounter as Text – From the Burnt-Out Former Gifted Kid

Micah and Nicole at the Lotus House (Photo by Micah Sotolongo-Miranda/CC BY 4.0)

I never wanted to be in the Honors College. I already experienced 12 years of being gifted honors AP and IB. I just wanted to be normal. My whole life I heard and lived by suffer now, succeed later. Put in the work now so later you can relax. Study hard for that test so later you can party. Sacrifice your present happiness so later you can guarantee your future happiness. I was so tired of expectations it was something I was looking forward to leaving for college. But I applied anyway, and I got in.

I never wanted to be in the Honors College. I already had a bachelor’s in science degree to worry about and to me it was more of a chore than an opportunity. More classes, more credits, more tests, and topics I never found interesting, not to mention my lack of social skills due to my previous educational experience. It wasn’t horrible but I didn’t feel like my college experience would be any different without it.

I never wanted to be in the Honors College. Until I took Miami in Miami. It was fun, interesting, and engaging. This was different than the rest of FIU; I could tell. It was still antisocial, but I connected with one of my peers cleaning the Lotus house on March 11th, and I finally felt a little less alone and a little more confident in myself. Around 6pm, FIU sent out mass emails to the students, faculty, and staff that all classes were to be online for 2 weeks. March 12th was the beginning of the longest year of my life.

I never wanted to be in the Honors College. Due to the global pandemic my confidence quickly dropped and so did my view on life. Bored, I packed my schedule with boring classes for my degree. Eighteen credit semesters were now new normal for me. All that time alone with myself and my family left me mentally and emotionally drained, and the opportunities I thought I would once have were gone.

I never wanted to be in the Honors College. Until I got a WhatsApp notification from Professor Bailly. I wish I could tell you why I chose France; but, in the end, it chose me. After three years of not being in contact at all from both Bailey and my peer from Miami and Miami, Nicole Patrick is now the head of study abroad for the Honors College, guiding me through the process. It was surreal, and yet welcoming.

I never wanted to be in the Honors College. But I’m so glad that I applied, so glad that I got in, and so glad that I stayed. I’m still the awkward kid from before; I still need to work on my confidence and social skills, but I’m getting better, and I think a big part of it is because of the Honors College. I’m no longer sacrificing myself for the potential of happiness, and instead I’m investing all of myself in both the present in the future.

Deering Estate as Text – Surrounded by Salt

The Freshwater Spring (Photo by Joshua Villamizar/CC BY 4.0)

At the Deering Estate, there exists a freshwater spring in the middle of the saltwater mangroves. At first, the freshwater coming from deep underground, interacting with the saltwater at sea level was intriguing to me. As someone who studies science, how was this possible? Would there be no mixing? How do freshwater species and saltwater species coexist in the same habitat? It turns out this specific scenario is possible due to freshwater and saltwater having a different density, but the answer is more complicated that one would think. Sometimes a freshwater spring works, more often it does not. It is up to us and humanity to preserve the freshwater springs to celebrate the diversity and culture of this world from the people who seek to snuff it out.

The Tequesta were the very first people from Miami, although before going to the Deering Estate, I’ve never heard of them. These people were resourceful. They used the abundant shells from the shore to craft tools, fitting perfectly in their hand to use them as spoons or knives. They knew how to extract the meat from a conch without harming the shell, so it could be used for other purposes. They used their environment to their advantage in what we know now as the Tequesta Midden, and we stood where the Tequesta once stood. Understanding the burial mound is also understanding a big part of their culture; it’s evidence of a greater respect for life and a sense of community in the burial and it shows respect for the remains of their people. The Tequesta culture was the closest we will ever see to a truly pure culture, freshwater. The native people of Florida were so rich and so influential to the Miami we know today; however, many do not know their existence, let alone their stories. Even the language is lost to the sands of time. Ponce De Leon came in 1513, and many Spanish and other European explorers came to Miami to look for gold and converts to Catholicism, and from the beginning of their interactions, the freshwater began to be surrounded by saltwater, with both good and bad consequences on both sides. For a while they lived in peace and traded, but the battles begun, and the Tequesta as a people dissolved. A freshwater spring that once worked, is now snuffed out by the salt that suffocated it, and it was forced to dissolve into the new Aryan ways. This is the unfortunate truth of unpreserved and disrespected cultures and societies.

Tropical hardwood hammock is one of the original ecosystems of South Florida, once enveloping the entire area we know as Miami 10,000 years ago. Today, forests are not usually associated with Miami; instead, we see imported palm trees, invasive iguanas, and nonnative flamingoes decorating every post card on South Beach. However, the Deering Estate Natural Preserve is a wonderful example of the Miami thousands of years ago. Once roaming these hardwood hammocks were dire wolves, saber-tooth tigers, camels, llamas, and American lions. These remains can be found in the Cutler Fossil site, which was once a watering hole. This beautiful habitat filled with native species and plants are hidden from the rest of Miami, and any land that isn’t preserved by the Deering Estate or another organization is being used to build new housing, shopping areas, and modern appliances. The once freshwater ecosystem of Florida is being surrounded by the salt of industry. The need for preservations like the one here is extremely apparent, as any native and natural habitat is disappearing from this city.

In today’s world, cultural and environmental preservation take a back seat to economic and political issues. When we think of cultural preservation, we think of genocides like the Holocaust, and mass extinctions like the Native Americans, but cultural preservation is still very important, especially today. Governor DeSantis, according to CNN, is removing books from children’s classrooms, going through them, and removing anything they deem unnecessary (Santiago and Forrest). Having any books at this time is considered a third-degree felony. NBC News states he is also pushing for the removal of classes such as AP African American Studies and courses that teach about LGBTQ+ culture and history, claiming that issues such as these should not be taught to children; even if they are high schoolers, teenagers on the cusp of adulthood (Edelman and Horowitch). World War II and the Holocaust started with book burning, depletion of knowledge from the population. We are dangerously close to a genocide of minorities. It is now more than ever that we need to protect the freshwater spring.


Edelman, Adam, and Rose Horowitch. “Academics Revising AP African American Studies Course Insist They Won’t Cave to GOP Pressure.” NBC News, 31 Jan. 2023, http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/academics-revising-ap-african-american-studies-course-insist-wont-cave-rcna68207.

Santiago, Leyla, and Jack Forrest. “Florida School District Begins ‘Cataloging’ Books to Comply With DeSantis-backed Law.” CNN, 26 Jan. 2023, edition.cnn.com/2023/01/25/politics/florida-school-library-books-law-desantis/index.html.

Enlightenment as Text – The Age of Reason in an Unreasonable Book

The Enlightenment, also known as the age of reason, is the result of the combination of ancient Greek philosophers and Christianity, the predominant religion of this era.

In pre-revolutionary France, or in general Europe before the Enlightenment, Roman Catholicism was the only form of thought, and was therefore used to explain most things, such as monarchs. Kings and queens had a divine right to rule, and because of this, they had unchecked ultimate power over their states and their people (Duignan). This can be seen in the show Versailles, as the king of France, Louis the XIV, uses his power to round up the nobles, demand taxation, and finally create a unified country under one ruler, making France the center point of cultural history. Christianity also influenced many other aspects of life, such as societal rules and gender norms. These were times where if women became too skilled, too smart, or spoke their mind too frequently, they would be accused of being witches and were burned at the stake, despite the evidence against this. This led to many, including Joan of Arc who is now a canonized saint in the Catholic Church, to be burned at the stake for her ‘crossdressing’ and her excellency and intelligence both on and off the battlefield.

Today we view the world in a much different light, with many different ideologies, even though these differences can lead to conflicts. This is due to the Enlightenment and the exploration of new ideas and philosophies, such as people like Pangloss in Voltaire, who believed that this was the best of all possible scenarios. And due to the Enlightenment, people could disagree and have different opinions based on personal experiences. The old woman believed that no one should complain about what they’d been through or what they have, no because it’s the best of all worlds, but because they’re will always be someone that has it worse than you. This is an ideology that many people have today, and it helps a lot of people get through rough patches. There are people like those in El Dorado who believe that a perfect utopia would have kings treat their subjects like friends, and where gold and diamonds have no worth in comparison to generosity and people’s well-being, but as is seen in the book, Candide and his companion grow tired and bored of this ideology, and instead take the worthless gold in the city to boast about it in Europe.  

The book itself was an extremely enjoyable read and the scenarios and stories were easy to tie back to the narrative that everyone has a different experience that might not be the best of all possible scenarios, but we should each cultivate our own garden so we can find satisfaction and joy in our own work. Something I found fascinating about Candide is the lack of redeemable and likeable characters within the entire span of the book. The main character, Candide himself, is bright and naïve but to the point where others, especially his supposed friends, backstab and betray him. Cunegonde is not much different, and as the beauty of the group, she is someone who constantly complains about how she once lived. Pangloss, who is supposed to be a man of reason, does the opposite, and instead of complaining, his coping mechanism is saying that this is best of all possible worlds, denying and invalidating his own feelings and experiences as well as his students.

However, even though the characters were extremely annoying, I think it makes the ending that much more impactful when the farmer is introduced and his attitude towards a simple life is explained. The entire book is filled with humanities need to not be bored, rather being stressed and miserable instead. The need for adventure in all these characters, all being killed off multiple times, is turned into something that they can focus on, farming. The book ends with no clarity on the mental state of our characters; we will never know if they are happy, or still as miserable as they once were. This is what Voltaire was trying to convey in his own interpretation of the enlightenment. The group benefit more when the individual works on themselves, and that ideas should change, grow, and adapt to new experiences and that it is okay for multiple different people to have different ideas.


Duignan, Brian. “Enlightenment – Reason and Religion.” Encyclopedia Britannica, 25 Aug. 2022, http://www.britannica.com/event/Enlightenment-European-history/Reason-and-religion.‌

Historic Miami as Text – Orange Bowl Roulette; which piece will you get?

“Dropped Bowl with Scattered Slices and Peels” by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen (Photo by Meghan Marrero/CC BY 4.0)

Walking around Downtown Miami, you see a setting filled with bustling streets, delivery robots, tall buildings, and modern life. Walking through modern day Miami, it’s hard to imagine that this place was once wilderness, like most other modern places today. This is what I thought before really understanding and appreciating not only the city of Miami, but how it pays homage to those who came before us. Like the bowl of fruit, Miami is an explosion of different cultures and traditions, and yet in the city, its hard to appreciate any culture other than today’s modern mess. It’s possible, but the pieces are everywhere, and it’s hard to fit them back in place. A shattered piece of bowl can be hard to fit and glue back on, and you can’t put an orange peel back on the orange. It becomes something new; a stranger to the rest of the bowl that once was.

This city used to be an ecological paradise, filled with different kinds of ecosystems such as the hardwood hammocks, the mangrove forest, and the beautiful bay. The population not only had the benefits and resources from the sea, but also from the land, and from the freshwater of the Everglades. A perfect bowl of harmony is now shattered, separating the environment and pollution the city of its natural beauty. The Miami River was once a center of bathing and drinking; today it is not recommended that you eat a fish that you catch in the river due to the amount of toxicity we have pumped into the ecosystem. There are small parks and patches of grass, but nowhere near the glory it once was, and it is sad that this is the effect that humanity has on nature.

The first Miamian were the Tequesta, and what was once known as the Tequesta Miami Circle is mostly gone to the sands of time. A lonely mural stands inside of a massive Whole Foods built over a burial ground for the Tequesta, as white organic vegan soccer moms and yoga nuts peruse the aisles. As they literally walk above the original Miamians, it isn’t hard to see the differences in culture and experience for different kinds of people. Miami is an exploding bowl, but the Tequesta got the smallest shortest piece when compared to the current state of Miami. This can also be seen in the treatment of indigenous people and the indigenous wars that followed as more people came to Miami. The story of Dade, a major who let his men be killed in an ambush by both indigenous people and black Bahamians, now rests on the front of the courthouse, a way to pay respect to a man that was not that good as his job. It’s interesting to think about how the county is named after him, when so many great Tequesta or Bahamian could have had such a great honor instead. They fought for freedom; Major Dade fought in vain.

In front of the Major is Henry Flagler, the father of Miami. In my eyes, the orange slices of the shattered bowl represent the man and woman who started the city of Miami as we know it today with, fittingly enough, oranges. Despite me mentioning a woman, by the name of Julia Tuttle, the only homage to her is on a plaque by the water put in 2020 by the female mayor of Miami. This shows once again that there is a lack of representation in our history. By bringing the railroad down to Miami, it not only benefited the community, but also brought new northern concepts, like institutionalized segregation. However, the free black Bahamians did get a right to vote for the integration of the city of Miami and were right after forced into segregation to in areas such as Coconut Grove and Overtown. But these Bahamians were free, unlike some of their slave counterparts, they did not have to live in buildings they made with their own blood, sweat, and tears, only to live like animals after a long day of unimaginably difficult work. Today’s Miami recognizes this reality, unlike the Tequesta, and has these slaves quarters in a park, along side the home of the first interracial marriage in Miami. The black history of Miami is definitely much better represented that the Tequesta, but it’s still not enough. Not enough schools come to learn, not enough people come to educate themselves. Miamians and Floridians need to learn their culture and learn from the past.

Finally, is the orange peel of the Cuban population of Miami; a shell of the culture and the country that once was before Fidel Castro. A stranger in a new and foreign country. It can never go back to being part of the orange, so instead it adapts. It embraces the orange that is was once a part of and becomes something new, less sweet and more zestful. Embracing a new opportunity for a better tomorrow in many senses of the world. As someone who came from Cuban immigrants, I recognize the greatness that this city has offered me and my family, and I am privileged compared to many others. I think most Cuban refugees, both political and economic, can agree that Miami was the opportunity of a better life. This is perfectly represented by the Freedom Tower. The mix of Islamic and Spanish architecture definitely is a bit ironic due to the fact that the Spanish were under the Islamic, then the Spanish were over the Islamic, and then the Cubans were under the Spanish in terms of freedom. It’s the physical representation of how Cuba and many other similar Hispanic countries came to be through Spain’s history. However, much like the Tequesta, any native Cubans were wiped out almost entirely, and we know very little about them, so unfortunately that part of Cuba’s history cannot be honored in today’s Miami.

Miami today is a wonderful city filled with opportunities for everyone, however it is important that there is darkness in our history. Instead of kicking it under the rug and pretending nothing happened, we need to make sure everyone hears it so we can learn from our past mistakes, and make sure that history does not repeat itself.


Viglucci, Andres. “From Giant Orange Peels to Home-Run Sculptures, This Is Art You Paid For.” Miami Herald, 13 July 2016, amp.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article89389017.html. Accessed 13 Mar. 2023.

Vizcaya as Text- The Delusional Dionysus

The S.S. Deering (Photo by Emma Rogers/CC BY 4.0)

Today’s Miami it’s known for being the city of pleasure, where tourists and locals alike can come together to eat, drink, and party in the subtropical paradise that we know and love today, whether you live on Ocean Avenue or Calle Ocho. Miami markets itself as this grandiose place of luxury and wealth, demonstrating beautiful structures, locations, and people as the best of the best. A perfect example of this is Vizcaya. Vizcaya, built and owned by James Deering, was a man of very specific tastes that is present in all of this Mediterranean villa. From the man himself that invites you in, to the prestigious demonstration of wealth and power, to the underlying messages of sex and sensuality, Vizcaya started the idea of Miami that we now know today.

Vizcaya as previously stated was a Mediterranean villa, whose architecture was heavily influenced by the Europeans with its pink walls and tiled roofs. The reason for this stylization was due to World War 1 preventing James Deering from going back to France during this time, so instead he brought France to him, and among the mangroves, had black Bahamian workers build a new kind of palace. The architecture started what we see as the Mediterranean revival in Miami as other houses took artistic inspiration from the palace, however Vizcaya was different. Vizcaya was the beginning; it couldn’t be like all the other houses. It beautifully and horribly demonstrates its power time and time again, and when you first enter the palace, although hard to see, is a dried up moat built by Deering to keep the poor out and away from him and his guests. He was the one in control and the one in power.

In addition to the architecture, there are many other homages to European culture, such as the arch leading to the garden. A symbol that was once the finish line of a long and great battle, where the victors were celebrated and admired by their people, is now the entrance to a splendor of green grass and colorful flowers. No battle has been fought, and yet nature herself celebrates the very man who commanded the people of Miami to do his bidding and carry out his desires, as well as all the guests he may invite into to his humble abode. Within the gardens are multiple benches. However, the purpose of these benches is not to admire the scenery; despite all that nature does for the people of this palace, she is not the primary subject of admiration in these gardens. The symbolism of flowers and nature is instead, much like her perception in pre-revolutionary France, one of sexuality and lust, where the people privileged enough to be invited into a place so amazing could have a place of privacy with one another. The arch now representing another kind of victory, one of passion and love.

Another way that he demonstrates power is a statue of Dionysus at the front entrance of the palace, inviting you to feast and indulge with him, and bathe in wine and glory. He makes it evidently clear that Deering sees himself as the god of pleasure, bringing it to the people that he deems worthy of such a privilege. He even sneaks wine into the premises during times of Prohibition and creating ways for the party to continue without the constant interruption of his servants. In the entrance from the barge, there is a similar invitation, saying that this is now the time to lose yourself to any and all earthly desires, but only after his mermaid gives you shelter from the harsh waves of the sea. Even on water, the powerful Mother Nature is only an obedient servant to the great James Deering. For he has spoken, “Jai Dit”, written of the entrance up the stairs to his quarters. It makes sense why Vizcaya’s mascot is a great ship, it commands the seas and travels wherever it pleases, having the freedom and flamboyance that any man like Deering would represent.

Much like Vizcaya, the Miami we know today similarly flaunts its wealth and lifestyle, but this can lead to severe consequences. During the height of Spring Break on Miami Beach, not much different to the kind of activity that Vizcaya would invite, two shootings occurred over the weekend, resulting in a curfew. Miami promotes itself as the party city, or the Magic City, but the reality is that these are still people with lives that they need to get back to, with people that care about them. Even the great guests of James Deering need to return home, to their families and loved ones, but these victims never did. Safety must always be put before pleasure, even in the great palace of Vizcaya, and especially in the party scene of Miami Beach.


News, A. B. C. (n.d.). Miami Beach sets spring break curfew after 2 fatal shootings. ABC News. Retrieved March 20, 2023, from https://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/miami-beach-sets-spring-break-curfew-after-2-97973750

World War II as Text – All Sides of the Story

Soldiers at Rest (Image by Thomas Rüdesheim from Pixabay)

World War II is most known for the events of the Holocaust, and how the Nazi party collected, tortured, and killed hundreds of thousands of Jews. They were a political party built on the hate of anyone other than the true Aryan race. The war existed to stop the conquering of territory and the destruction of lives on both the western front and the eastern front. To learn from the war and our mistakes in society and history, education needs to be more prevalent about all sides of these stories to make sure this does not happen again.

The Nazis and Germans of the time are portrayed as evil and horrible people, but most of them had been brainwashed by Hitler and other positions of a higher power in the party. They were taught for many years by their Fuhrer that the Jews were everything wrong with society at the time, such as political turmoil and economic problems. They were taught to hate the Jews, despite them doing absolutely nothing to deserve this, other than look different and practice a different religion. After the war, many Nazis moved to the Americas to escape the consequences of their actions, and some became scientists for the United States as a pardon.

The Band of Brothers, as well as the other war movies such as Inglourious Basterds and Saving Private Ryan, reminded me a lot of a movie called All Quiet on the Western Front. This movie is about World War I, and how the war went from the perspective of the Germans fighting on the western front by France. Many characters from both stories had similar qualities. Corporate Himmelstoss in All Quiet on the Western Front is like Captain Sobel from Band of Brothers as someone who in theory is a great soldier and leader, but folds under pressure due to a lack of experience and cowardice. Paul and his friends from Germany are very similar to Easy Company, a group of men who made a choice to join the war and fight for their country but become disillusioned through the horrors they encounter. Cat and Winters are similar as both are the commanding officers that the soldiers look to for comfort and direction in the battles of the war.

I bring up World War I for two reasons: due to the lack of perspective from the enemy side, and because it was the beginning of how we describe war today: destructive chaos. The horrors of World War I from both sides showed the world what war truly was. It wasn’t the glorious battle where soldiers were treated as heroes like the posters and propaganda showed; it was a mass grave no matter which side you were on. War is often described as hell, but the truth is it’s worse than hell. In hell, people are given consequences for their actions in life, ones they deserve. In war, the innocent lose everything from their homes to their lives. I don’t think World War II could have been avoided; it was clear that Hitler would not allow that to happen. But I do think most wars can be avoided, and that most political conflicts can and should be solved through reason and understanding, and as a last resort when violence is necessary, to keep it outside of civilian areas. This was the mentality of most soldiers following The Great War, which lead to stories such as those we have learned in this class, to limit the possibility of having another world war.

Although they are two completely different wars with their own reasons for battling, the similarities between World War I and II are easy to see. In this class, we read Maus I and II and watched the show and movies previously mentioned, however, I would have liked to see the Holocaust and the war from the Nazis’ perspective, or someone from the German army. I am instead using my knowledge of World War 1 to compare both sides of this terrible war. I am not by any means justifying their actions as it was extremely horrible and has no excuse; I believe there is a special place in hell for people who commit hate crimes such as the Nazis did. However, there is a scene in Band of Brothers in the episode “Day of Days” where one of the American soldiers meets a Nazi soldier and finds out he was from Oregon just like him. It reminded me of a scene in All Quiet on the Western Front where the group of boys are discussing why they are even at war. I wonder if any Nazis ever felt that way, as their friends died around them just like their American counterparts.

It should be just as important for the enemy to tell their story just as the Holocaust survivors should tell their stories, and how the American soldiers should tell their stories. In history, the victors are so often the writers of history, which leads to the Eurocentric way of thinking we observe in our history books today, even now as we eradicate black and queer history from school materials. It is so important to retell the events of yesterday to make sure they are not repeated tomorrow. Every tragedy begins with misinformation and fearmongering, just like the Germans in World War II. I am afraid that we will return to that mentality as so many bills against minority groups are passed in states across the USA. Society must be educated on the good, the bad, and the ugly sides of history, regardless of the comfort level of today’s generation. If we do this today, we will save those tomorrow.


Milestone, Lewis. All Quiet on the Western Front. Universal Pictures, 1930.

Ambrose, Stephen E. Band Of Brothers. Simon & Schuster, 2016.

Revolution as Text – Where is God?

All Men are Created Equal (Image by mailme6 from Pixabay)

Before the time of revolutions, there was not a drastic difference in beliefs or religions. Everyone was Catholic, and everyone listened to the teachings and beliefs of the Catholic church, and how not all men were created equal. Some were destined to rule, born into greatness, plucked by the hands of God himself to have that divine right. And who was anyone to question God?

The tyranny of these rulers was apparent, especially in France. There were kings such as Louis the XIV who demanded to be seen and looked at by his nobles and other monarchs of Europe, demonstrating his power not only to the people in France, but also to the whole world. Everyone depended on him and revolved around him as the Sun King. He is the reason why today we have Fashion Week Paris, and why many high luxury brands are French, such as Chanel, Dior, louis Vuitton, and more. He is also the perfect example of the suffering of the regular citizen during this time and the imbalance of power that they faced.

Like Louis the XIV, Marie Antoinette was also the face of this type of monarchy. She is remembered throughout history as the queen who loved her desserts and who played pretend peasant in her fabricated village she had built. Her husband was not much better, as a king who valued pride over his own life, rather taking a carriage fit for a king and get caught rather than escape into the night safely. The catalyst for the Revolution was eliminating the common people from having any say in political affairs, and in a twisted form of irony, the tennis courts that were issued and built under the Sun King’s reign is where the people agreed to write a constitution for France.

This is an extremely important moment in history as it changed the perspective of royalty from a divine monarchy to a constitutional monarchy. Politically, the royal family would still have power, but there were certain aspects that even God himself could not change. This questioning of God came from the Enlightenment, and was the birth of human rights for all, a set of guaranteed opportunities and availabilities just for being alive. The king was no longer France or God, only a part of a much larger whole. This led to more serious conflicts and eventually violence to what we now know as the Reign of Terror, where revolutionaries such as Robespierre collected nobles and members of the royal family to have public executions.

However, as depicted in The Lost King of France, there was one royal who did not have a public execution. The child of Marie Antoinette and Louis the XVI, Louis XVII, was abused and tortured by the same group of people that beheaded his parents. As a member of the royal family, the people wanted him to suffer, but as a child they did not want him executed. It can be argued that an execution would have led to a less painful and fairer end. The guillotine represented equality among everyone, whether noble or commoner. It was the same ending for everyone, but Louis XVII was not granted that right.

The book told the untold story of the tortured prince and how he was mistreated and left for dead in a cell, sexually and physically abused until eventually he died, most likely due to the horrible living conditions he was in. The author of the book however, Deborah Cadbury, is clearly biased to the royal family since the beginning of the book. The actions done to Louis the XVII were not justified just because his family was horrible; as John Locke said, we are all born blank slates. It is unfair that the people that caused France to suffer had a quick and equal death while an innocent boy was tortured. He could have grown up to be exactly like his father, or his great grandfather, in fact, it was almost sure to happen if the revolution did not happen. But punishing someone for a crime they may possibly commit in the future is wrong.

The story of The Lost King of France completely erases everything the revolutionaries stood for in the Declaration of Rights of the Man and of the Citizen, and other ideologies believed at the time of the Revolution that came from the Enlightenment. It was hypocritical and hard to read. Where is God in situations like this? But it shows the humanity in all sides of the story. There is not always a good side and a bad side of history like we so often categorize as a society. As human beings we are emotionally and mentally so much more complex than labels and lines, and its pieces like this that show that. I disliked reading the book; I am often triggered by sexual assault and situations that the prince was going through. But at the end of the day, I will gladly sacrifice my comfort to learn all the truths of this story. On this Earth, it is not God that chooses the privileged, but it is humans that change the future.


Cadbury, Deborah. The Lost King of France: A True Story of Revolution, Revenge, and DNA. Macmillan, 2002.

Author: hsoto013

Hello, my name is Hanna Sotolongo-Miranda, and I am currently a freshman at the Florida International University Honors College. As a resident of Miami, I graduated from Coral Reef Senior High School with honors and under the International Baccalaureate program. As a freshman in college, I look forward to learning and experiencing the many opportunities that college and classes have to offer. I aspire to have a career in Marine Biology and work towards this goal in my studies at Florida International University. I look forward to the rest of my time at FIU, and to the opportunities yet to come.

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