2 October 2017
Textual Analysis of “From A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson”
Throughout “From A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson” by Mary Rowlandson, there are numerous mentions of worldly and spiritual struggles experienced by both her and the residents of Lancaster, Massachusetts during the time of the Indian raid. Mary Rowlandson’s attention to adventure in her narrative, the chronological movement of the text through ‘removes’, and the depiction of individuals other than the "white" race demonstrates the Puritan Era’s crave for adventure, Rowlandson’s struggles spiritually and worldly, as well as her struggle to humanize the Indians.
The worldly struggles implied throughout Rowlandson’s struggles are simply geographical. The chapter-like feel of the story, labeled in “removes” coincides with her geographical struggle. Each chapter, so-to-speak, is another step away from her home in Lancaster, Massachusetts. By labeling the chapters in ‘removes’, it adds an element of sadness because the "removes" represent the removes of her heart as she slowly loses grasp of what she has come to know. The Indians that raided the town of Lancaster kill as many European settlers as they can and kidnap the rest. Mary, one of the “lucky” ones, is kidnapped and struggles internally with the distance between her and her home which again, is shown through the removes; the further she "removes" her chapters, the more she removes herself from home. Rowlandson says of their second remove,
…now, the next morning, I must turn my back upon the town and travel with [the Indians] into the vast and desolate wilderness, I knew not whither. It is not my tongue, or pen, can express the sorrows of my heart, and bitterness of my spirit that I had at this departure…” (Rowlandson 130)
Here Rowlandson is proving that moving away from home is impacting her both spiritually and physically. She dramatizes the journey away from home to add an element of adventure through the ‘removes’. By only writing about the ‘removes’ that contain action, Rowlandson is adhering to the Puritan crave and obsession with adventure and action within stories.
Not only does Rowlandson struggle geographically, she also struggles spiritually. The spiritual struggles Rowlandson portrays, are satisfied through her faith in God. In the beginning of her story, she explains to the reader “…that if the Indians should come, I should choose rather to be killed by them than taken alive, but…their glittering weapons so daunted my spirit, that I chose to go along with those…ravenous beasts…” (Rowlandson 129). An example of her almost-wavering faith in God she writes, “God was with me in a wonderful manner, carrying me along, and bearing up my spirit, that it did not quite fail” (Rowlandson 130). Her faith in God wavered throughout the story, but she remained faithful. She writes, “Oh,...