Author Information

Peter Wood


The animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender plays as a response to the broader tradition of American captivity narratives, a genre in which one “captive” character or group is emotionally or physically constrained by a “captor.” Captivity narratives have historical roots in American colonial accounts, especially those by white women, of being captured by mostly male, or at least masculine-coded, American Indians. Avatar: The Last Airbender, commonly referred to as ATLA, takes place in a world of four nations: the Water Tribes, Earth Kingdom, Fire Nation, and the Air Nomads, which are based on Inuit, Chinese, Japanese, and Tibetan cultures respectively. It details the journey of a young nomad named Aang and his friends to end a century-long war with the technologically advanced Fire Nation. As the series progresses, it most noticeably incorporates the captor-captive dynamic into its protagonists Aang, Katara, and Sokka, who are fleeing and, at times, captured by Prince Zuko of the Fire Nation. It is worth noting that Zuko fills both roles, hoping to convince his father to reverse his banishment from the Fire Nation by trying to capture Aang

Note on the Author

Peter Wood graduated in May 2018 with a major in English and minors in Geography and Spanish. This research paper was completed in the Fall 2017 Senior Seminar, Captivity in American Literature and Film, under the instruction of Dr. Emily Field (English). Peter completed a directed study in the spring of 2018 under the mentorship of Dr. Fernanda Ferreira (Global Languages and Literatures).

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