Mary and Johns Captivity

Topics: Captivity narrative, Native Americans in the United States, Mary Rowlandson Pages: 5 (1739 words) Published: November 16, 2010
How Mary Smith and John Smith survived captivity

In The Account of Mary Rowlandson Captivity Narrative, Mary Rowlandson describes in detail the tragic events she had to face after being taken captive by the Wampanoag’s in 1676. She is certain that the only reason she has been taken captive is because god is punishing her for her wrong doings. Like Mary Rowlandson Col. John Smith also was taken captive against his will. In Col. James Smith Captivity Narrative he is not treated poorly or beaten but adopted by the Native Americans. Both Mary Rowlandson and John Smith write about their time during captivity. While Mary Rowlandson’s focus is religion and how everyone should be more dependent on god, John Smiths main focus is the culture and ability of the native Americans to be so successful in there day to day life. While some may say Smith was successful in surviving because he was adopted and Rowlandson because of god, both Rowlandson and smiths survival were equally do to them being able to become acculturated with their surroundings.

Many people may think that Smith was successful in surviving his captivity because he was adopted by the Native Americans and not taken for ransom or revenge. He was taken by the Native Americans at the age of eighteen. They had taken him captive because one of their tribe members had died. When a tribe member dies the tribe captures a person and “adopts” them, which they did with smith. Smith so young and not knowing that he was going to be adopted was fearful of his life. He was especially worried about dyeing during the event where he had to run between the Indians as they flogged him. He said “Before I lost my senses I remember my wishing them to strike the fatal blow, for I thought they intended killing me” (Smith. 4). At the time he did not know this was a rite of passage. He couldn’t tell anything that was going on because he had not yet been acculturated in their way of living and language. Even though the Native Americans had every intention of adopting him this did not guarantee his survival. The only thing that could guarantee his survival was being able to become acculturated with their way of living and be able to do the task that was set for him. One of the few Indians that spoke English told him he “must not only go with the Indians, but must be made and Indian” (Smith. 5). He couldn’t just go and live as an adopted Indian and do nothing, he had to become one of them by learning their culture. He had to prove he was able to accomplish the necessary things they due to survive. Just after a few days they tested him by letting him take the dogs and go hunting. The next morning they found him lost and on the way back to camp. Smith says “they took my gun from me, and for this rash step I was reduced to a bow” (Smith. 10). He had to start at the bottom and learn their ways before being able to survive and move up in ranking. If he could not learn the ways of their culture that proved to be very successful for the Indians then he would be of no use to them. One of the Indians stated to him that the man he has replaced was an excellent hunter and now Smith must fill his shoes. Smith needed to contribute to the work the tribe had to do. He was also expected to be able to do all the things the Indian men did. Without being able to become acculturated and help out with the choirs that needed to be done to survive then he would be dead weight and just another mouth to feed. He would not have been filling anybody’s shoes just taking up space and food. If he could not have succeeded in becoming one of the Indians then they could have just killed him and found somebody else that could become one of them and help contribute. One thing that aided in his success in becoming acculturated was that he was able to learn the langue of the trib. Being captive over two years gave him plenty of time to learn their ways of life and become acculturated with them. They took the time to help him...
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