The Captivity And Restoration Of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson

1732 words - 7 pages

The Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson


In “A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson,” Mary Rowlandson, a Puritan mother from Lancaster, Massachusetts, recounts the invasion of her town by Indians in 1676 during “King Philip’s War,” when the Indians attempted to regain their tribal lands. She describes the period of time where she is held under captivity by the Indians, and the dire circumstances under which she lives. During these terrible weeks, Mary Rowlandson deals with the death of her youngest child, the absence of her Christian family and friends, the terrible conditions that she must survive, and her struggle to maintain her faith in God. She also learns how to cope with the Indians amongst whom she lives, which causes her attitude towards them to undergo several changes. At first, she is utterly appalled by their lifestyle and actions, but as time passes she grows dependent upon them, and by the end of her captivity, she almost admires their ability to survive the harshest times with a very minimal amount of possessions and resources. Despite her growing awe of the Indian lifestyle, her attitude towards them always maintains a view that they are the “enemy.”

In the beginning of the narrative, Mary Rowlandson describes the manner in which the Indians invade her home, kill many of her friends, and drag her away from her husband and two children. She watches as the “murderous Wretches [burn] and [destroy]” her home before her eyes. It is the “dolefullest day that [her] eyes have ever [seen].” At this point in time, Mary has no knowledge of the Indian lifestyle, or even of their motive for ravaging the land of the colonists. She sees them merely as merciless heathens who come from Satan. Mary writes that before the incident, she said that if “the Indians should come, [she] should choose rather to be killed by them then [be] taken alive,”(124) but when that choice actually comes to her, she chooses to go with them, despite her unwillingness. At this point, she puts her life into the Indians’ hands. Once they leave the town, Mary and the Indians begin a series of “removes,” or moves to different areas of the New England wilderness. Mary describes the celebration rituals of the Indians, where they dance and chant, and “[make] the place a lively resemblance of hell!” Their unchristian lifestyle is completely foreign to her, and her first instinct is to relate their rituals to satanic rituals. However, she maintains a passive attitude in the hope that they will not hurt her or her wounded and dying daughter. During their “removes,” Mary becomes too weak to walk any longer, and the Indians, “like inhuman creatures, laugh and rejoice to see it.”They do nothing to provide for her comfort during their long journeys through the rough landscape. Her only refuge is to take comfort in her prayer and hope that God will help her through these hard times. After the first several days, Mary...

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