Question of Marriage Between Pocahontas and John Rolfe

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After reading this poem, many people may wonder if the relationship between Pocahontas and John Rolfe was romantic, or merely convenient. Throughout the poem, the tone reveals a sense of resentment from Pocahontas towards her husband as she explains how she taught him a way of life in the land he was unfamiliar with. Pocahontas stated that she saved her husband thousands of times because he was naïve and had no knowledge about survival in the new land he had come to take over. Context clues provide readers with the notion that Pocahontas ultimately sacrificed herself for the sake of John Rolfe, and assimilation of their different cultures. The relationship between John Rolfe and Pocahontas was not one of romance, or convenience, but rather deceit and assimilation because the shift towards westernization in the Native American territory was inevitable. This poem begins with Pocahontas stating, “Had I not cradled you in my arms,… you would have died.” This line sets the tone of the entire poem and reveals Pocahontas’ attitude towards her husband. Immediately we know that she takes credit for saving John’s life. As the poem progresses, the disconnect is clear when Pocahontas addresses all of the ways in which she saved her husband. Pocahontas gave John tasks and taught him the ways of the land so that he could begin a life in the new territory after his ‘masters far across the sea’ abandoned him. For example, she taught her husband how to plant and harvest tobacco. This was an interesting crop to reap because it has so much more value than a simple food staple. This monetary crop was a large part of Native Page 2

American culture and according to Carly Scheer, a graduate from the University of Minnesota, in an article regarding this poem a goal of the Powhattan tribe was to introduce tobacco to the western world. Pocahontas gave way to this goal as John Rolfe became one of the chief exporters of this crop back to his native land. In lines 6-7 Pocahontas says...
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