“Faith in the Face of Affliction”
On the tenth of February 1676, a literary masterpiece was started in the mind of a woman who endured traumatic experiences by being taken captive by hostile Indians. Mary Rowlandson made history by writing a testament of her unfortunate events that took place during her eighty three days of captivity. This literary piece is known as “A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson”. This story was a personal recollection of Rowlandson’s life as a prisoner of war, taken captive by the Algonquians during King Phillip’s war in 1675 (Rosenmeier 255). This narrative was composed of great adventure, courage, a look into the lives of the Indian people, and most importantly religious devotion. When reading Rowlandson’s narrative, there may be different interpretations of why Rowlandson wrote about her captivity. Some may feel that it was written to reveal the lives of the Indian world to fuel the war against the Indians, while others may interpret it as only a memoir meant for her own personal healing. In looking deeper into Rowlandson’s narrative it proves to be a testament of God’s mercy and goodness towards the afflicted. She demonstrates how to be a role model for her fellow Puritans by facing affliction with faith and obedience to God. First published in 1682, Rowlandson’s narrative not only became one of the first and lasting best sellers in American literature; It paved the way for other literary stories to be written of white women captured by Indians (Faery 121). This narrative was believed to be written solely from memory soon after Rowlandson’s return to her husband on May 2, 1676. It gave her audience a vivid glimpse into the lives of the “hellish” Indian people which was extremely intriguing to the Puritans at that time, while also sending her message of the sovereignty of God and his mercy. The early popularity of captivity narratives was attributed to the curiousness of people who wanted to know about the lives of the rumored “savages”; being a source of entertainment in an era where there was so much that was unknown in the world. The popular demand for these gruesome stories of life among the “heathens” encouraged the production of fictionalized captivity narratives (Lang 306). Christianity was strong among the Colonists who often correlated life events to messages from the Bible; captivity was seen as “God’s plan” as a test and judgment (Dietrich 427). There is an overwhelming amount of references to the Bible throughout the narrative. Rowlandson interprets her captivity as her punishment for the many Sabbaths she missed and therefore God’s way of getting her on the right path in her religion. The Puritans believed in the bible to the extent that everything had true meaning and happened in accordance to the scriptures. It was a Puritan belief that God controlled worldly events and their outcome which is why Rowlandson applied this concept to her captivity. The Bible also influenced the Puritans views and treatment of the Indians. The Puritans were believed to be God’s “chosen people” while the Indians were considered “barbarous creatures” (Rowlandson 259). The strong faith and guidance that Rowlandson turned to for answers to her captivity and hardships resulted in her versatility that spared her from falling victim to death like so many others. It is believed that because she was a Minister’s wife and she was more valuable to the Indians because of the likeliness for a large ransom; Rowlandson observed more abuse than she experienced (Derounian 80). Rowlandson marked time as “Removes” which is represented by a separate section within the narrative and provides a formal structure for her account of daily life in captivity (Lang 307). She begins her narrative writing of the day that the Indians raided the Rowlandson’s garrison in Lancaster, Massachusetts. Rowlandson immerses the reader into a vivid description of the horrors...
Cited: University of North Carolina Press. 82-93. Database. 4 Nov. 2013.
Dietrich, Deborah J. "Mary Rowlandson 's Great Declension." Women 's Studies 24.5 (1995):
Faery, Rebecca B. Mary Rowlandson (1637–1711). Legacy , Vol. 12, No. 2 1995.
University of Nebraska Press
Lang, Amy S. “Mary Rowlandson: (circa 1637-January 1711). Emory University. 304-312. Database.
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