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On June 20, 1675, Metacomet, also understood as Philip by the early American colonist, led a series of attacks on colonial settlements that lasted for more than a year. These attacks ended up being referred to as “King Philips War.” It was a desperate effort by the Belonging to maintain their land as their culture and resources diminished prior to them. Mary Rowlandson, a popular victim of these Indian attacks, states her eleven-week captivity in her released book, A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs.
Mary Rowlandson. The book explains her experience as a slave of the Wampanoags in great detail, and combines high adventure, heroism, and exemplary piety, that made it a popular piece in the seventeenth century. Throughout the narrative Mary Rowlandson portrays her abilities as a writer with the delineation of her character.
In her captivity, Mary Rowland understands that life is short and absolutely nothing is particular. The typical style of unpredictability teaches Rowlandson that she can take absolutely nothing for grated.
In a single day the seeming stability of life disappears without cautioning as represented in the opening scene when the town of Lancaster is burned down and she is separated from her two older kids. Rowlandson transitions from a partner of a wealthy minister with three kids to a captive prisoner with a single injured daughter in one day. Another circumstances of unpredictability is between The Twelfth Get rid of, where she is approved by her master to be offered to her other half, however the next day in The Thirteenth Remove she writes, “rather of going towards the Bay, which was that I preferred, I need to choose them five or six miles down the river into the magnificent thicket of brush; where we abode nearly a fortnight (271 ).
In addition to the unpredictability nothing in her captivity corresponded either. One day the Indians treat her respectfully, while the next day they give her no food. This inconsistency can be seen between The Eighth Eliminate and The Ninth Get rid of. In The Eighth Eliminate, Rowlandson is asked to make different garments in return for a shilling and various types foods; however, in The Ninth Eliminate, Rowland was asked to make a shirt, but receives absolutely nothing in return (267-268). The disparity comes from the uncertain future, which plants fear in Rowlandson’s character. The only light she can see in her dark captivity is the light of her God.
As a Puritan, Rowlandson believes that God’s will shapes the events in her life, and that each event serves a purpose. The common Puritan belief that humans have no choice, but to accept God’s will and make sense of it is portrayed throughout her narrative. This belief in God produces values of fortitude and determination Rowlandson uses to survive the eleven-week captivity. This is can be seen in The Second Remove as she is about to collapse from fatigue and injury, “but the Lord renewed my strength still, and carried me along, that I might see more of his power (260).”
Rowlandson often creates parallels between her own situation and biblical verses about the Israelites because the Puritans thought they were the descendants of the Israelites in the new world. This is portrayed in the closing scene when Rowlandson is reunited with her family and she quotes Moses speaking to the Israelites, ”stand still and see the salvation of the Lord (288).” Moses said this to the Israelites at their arrival to the promise land after forty days of wandering in the desert. Rowlandson compares her captivity to the forty days in the desert, and her reunion with her family to the arrival at the promise land.
In Rowlandson’s captivity, her perspective of the Native Indians evolves from savagery to aspects of civility. The more time she spent with the Natives the more relations she made with them that culminate into respect and appreciation for their culture. Initially Rowlandson considered the Natives “barbarous creatures” who “made the place a lively resemblance of hell” after the burning of Lancaster (259). As a result she speculates the Natives as violent savages. She was also disgusted with the various foods they ate such as ground nuts, tree bark, and horse liver; nevertheless, after three weeks of starvation she acquired a taste for the irregular foods.
This is depicted in The Fifth Remove, “but the third week… I could starve and die before I could eat such things, yet they were sweet and savory to my taste (265).” This expresses a minor change of heart Rowlandson has for the Natives as she finds herself eating the same foods and enjoying them. In addition to the acquired taste of the Native foods, more similarities become apparent such as “praying Indians” who claim to have converted to Christianity and some instances where the Natives are wearing colonists’ clothing (279). The once distinct difference in civility and savagery becomes blurred in the similarities Rowland notices between the colonist and the Natives.
Rowlandson explores the fearful hesitation most colonists feel in the face of the new world. The new world is the unknown environments outside the colonies, mainly toward the west. This includes the forest and wooded areas that are associated with the Natives. It is where the Natives live, where they take their captives, and a place of unknown to the colonist, which made it fearful. Rowlandson described it as a place of “deep dungeon” and “high and steep hill (266).” In Rowlandson’s captivity, she is pushed into the forest where her experience brings her further away from civilization. Her and other captives, such as Robert Pepper, gain practical knowledge about the natural world during their time spent with the Indians. Although this knowledge is key to her survival, it brings her anxiety and guilt because she feels as though she is being pushed from civilization.
The delineated characterization of Mary Rowlandson in her published book, A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson, depicts the way Puritans approached life with religious concepts and beliefs, but the influence of the Native culture is what separates her work as the first captivity narrative. In her captivity she loses her original physiological security through eleven weeks of uncertainty and inconsistency. This forces her to think outside her Puritan ideology into the new world of different environments and experiences. Her new experiences allow her to grow and appreciate the differences of the new world, and in her reflection Rowlandson closes the gap between the Natives and Puritans by identifying the similarities between the two cultures.
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