The Sovereignty and Goodness of God
The Sovereignty and Goodness of God is a primary source document written in the 17th century, by a well-respected, Puritan woman. This book, written in cahoots with Cotton and Increase Mather, puritan ministers, tells the story of her capture by Indians during King Phillip’s War (1675-1676). For three months, Mary Rowlandson, daughter of a rich landowner, mother of three children, wife of a minister, and a pillar of her community lived among “savage” Indians. This document is important for several reasons. First, it gives us insight into the attitudes, extremes, personalities and “norms” of the Puritan people we learn about in terms of their beliefs, and John Calvin’s “house on a hill”. Beyond that, despite the inevitable exaggerations, this book gives us insight into Indian communities, and how they were run and operated during this time.
Mary Rowlandson was a pretentious, bold and pious character. Her narrative did not make me feel sorry for her at all, which is strange since she really did go through a lot. During the war, the Narragansett Indians attacked Lancaster Massachusetts, and burned and pillaged the whole village. During the siege Mary and her six year old child were shot, she watched her sister and most of her village either burn or get shot. She was kept as a captive, along with her three children and taken with the Narragansett’s on their long retreat. The exposition of the story is set immediately. The reader is perfectly aware of Missus Rowlandson’s status and religious beliefs. She constantly refers to the Narragansetts in an incredibly condescending way, to the point that you know that she does not even consider them human. She paints them as purely evil people, and does not even respect the “Praying Indians.”
From the beginning of the story, when she says that they did not give her any food, (when you find out later that not only did they give her food, but she was so hungry that she hoarded it for at least a month) I couldn’t even feel bad for her because of her obnoxiously condescending attitude. I also find it hard to believe that her attitude does not change. She maintains that ALL Indians are barbarians throughout the whole narrative. She complains of being a servant to these people, when it seems to me that she had a lot more freedom than any slave I’ve heard of does did. Her master not only allows her to leave on her own and visit her son, he gives her directions. When ever his second wife- Weetamoo kicks her out of the wigwam, she is free to do whatever she wants, not to mention the other Indians always take her in, give her better accommodations than Weetamoo, and feed her. It seems to me that she was more of a citizen of their community, in their minds, than a captive. Weetamoo is the only Indian that is mean to Mary.
Wetamoo’s behavior towards Mary also sparks an interesting question in my mind. Could the godly and perfect Mary have been...