Mary Rowlandson a Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson 1682 Term Paper

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¶ … Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson by Mary Rowlandson. Specifically it will discuss Rowlandson's captivity with the Indians, and her strong will to survive. Captured by marauding Indians in 1675, Mary Rowlandson lived with the Native Americans for several weeks before her husband managed to ransom her. Her strong will to survive, coupled with her equally strong belief in God helped her survive the ordeal, and helped her write about it after it had ended.

Indians captured Mary Rowlandson alive after they attacked the town where she lived. Most of her family and friends were killed right before her eyes, so she understood the brutality of the Indians. However, she chose to accompany them rather than die at their hand, even though this went against her whole idea of captivity. Early in her narrative she writes, "I had often before this said that if the Indians should come, I should choose rather to be killed by them than taken alive, but when it came to the trial my mind changed; their glittering weapons so daunted my spirit, that I chose rather to go along with those (as I may say) ravenous beasts, than that moment to end my days" (Rowlandson). This is the first indication that Rowlandson has a strong will to survive and to survive at all costs, even if it means traveling and living with the "ravenous beasts." She wants to live, and surviving will ensure that she can tell her story and perhaps even help others avoid her fate.

Rowlandson's narrative shows how difficult it was to keep on going, and how frightened she was of what was to come. As they left the area she knew and loved, she feels nothing but sorrow and pain. She writes, "But now, the next morning, I must turn my back upon the town, and travel with them 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). She did not know it then, but she would not see her home again for over three months, and when she returned, she would find nothing left standing, and no one but Indians in the area.

Throughout the narrative, Rowlandson talks about her faith and how it helped her get through this terrible experience. She notes, "But the Lord renewed my strength still, and carried me along, that I might see more of His power; yea, so much that I could never have thought of, had I not experienced it" (Rowlandson). She continues, "Yet the Lord still showed mercy to me, and upheld me; and as He wounded me with one hand, so he healed me with the other" (Rowlandson). Even after her daughter dies in her arms, she keeps her faith with her, and it helps her through her situation and gives her hope for the future. This not only shows her faith, but it indicates the strength of the Puritan belief system, and the conviction that brought the Puritans to America to begin with. In his essay "Mary Rowlandson: Narrator of Captivity," Mark Canada writes, "Finally, in its use of autobiography, typology, and the jeremiad, Rowlandson's book helps us to understand the Puritan mind" (Canada). The Puritans came to America to escape religious persecution in Europe, and their strong convictions helped them settle a new world and cope with the many difficulties that entailed, just as Rowlandson uses her faith to cope with her capture. In fact, the school named in her honor in Lancaster, Massachusetts, (the town that she lived in when she was captured) Mary Rowlandson Elementary School, notes she was born in England, and came to America when her father immigrated there in the early 1600s.

Rowlandson had to use all her wits and strength to survive. She had been shot in the side, and the Indians did nothing to help her take care of her wound. Her six-year-old daughter was also wounded, and eventually died. Still, Rowlandson was determined to survive. She nursed her wound, but could not forget her children. She says, "I had one child dead, another in the wilderness, I knew not where, the third they would not let me come near to" (Rowlandson). Eventually her wound healed, and she discovered that her son and another daughter had been captured, as well. Her will to survive stretched to her family, and she attempted to visit with her children several times, helping them cope with their situation, and giving them faith as well.

As her capture went on, Rowlandson relied more and more on her faith. The Indians even gave her a Bible to read, which helped her considerably. The Mary Rowlandson Elementary School Web site notes, "Mary Rowlandson was a very devout Christian. After an Indian raid in the town of Medfield, Massachusetts, a bible was taken as plunder and it was given to Mrs. Rowlandson. Reading scriptures was of great comfort to her during her ordeal" (Editors). Mary herself writes of this time, "One of the Indians that came from Medfield fight, had brought some plunder, came to me, and asked me, if I would have a Bible, he had got one in his basket. I was glad of it, and asked him, whether he thought the Indians would let me read?" (Rowlandson). They did let her read and it provided great comfort to her during her ordeal, and this faith helped her maintain her will to survive and to rescue her children as well.

Rowlandson's faith helped her make it through hellish times with the Indians, including a time when they murdered a pregnant woman and her child, and then burned the bodies. Rowlandson could only have thought that the same fate might wait for her, and so, she read her Bible constantly, and shared some of her readings with the other captives. At one particularly difficult time she says, "I opened my Bible to read, and the Lord brought that precious Scripture to me. 'Thus saith the Lord, refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears, for thy work shall be rewarded, and they shall come again from the land of the enemy' (Jeremiah 31.16)" (Rowlandson). Her faith helped her at that time, and she notes that her thoughts often returned to that Scripture often, even after her eventual release by the Indians.

Rowlandson's faith also helped her survive when she found the Indians food distasteful. She says, "[Y]et it was very hard to get down their filthy trash; but the third week, though I could think how formerly my stomach would turn against this or that, and I could starve and die before I could eat such things, yet they were sweet and savory to my taste" (Rowlandson). Thus, she discovered that her will to survive was stronger than her repugnance at their food, and she began to eat just so she would grow stronger and survive. She did not enjoy it, and she often had food stolen from her, so she learned to guard her food and eat whatever she could find. It is another example of her strength and her determination to live, no matter what happened to her.

Throughout her ordeal, Rowlandson did encounter Indians who were kind to her, and this helped her keep her faith and will to survive. Some were very kind to her, and gave her food, while she made garments for others and they paid her with money or food. Her master allowed her to keep these gifts, and even helped her find her way through the forest to visit her son, who had been captured by a different band of Indians. She writes, "One bitter cold day I could find no room to sit down before the fire. I went out, and could not tell what to do, but I went into another wigwam, where they were also sitting round the fire, but the squaw laid a skin for me, and bid me sit down, and gave me some ground nuts, and bade me come again" (Rowlandson). Her experiences are not all bad, but she still sees the Indians as heathen brutes, and as they continue to attack English villages, it is difficult not to agree with her. Their methods of killing are brutal, but they were fighting for their way of life that was disappearing, and no one ever seems to think of that. Rowlandson never mentions that they were fighting over lands that were taken away from them, and that their way of life was disappearing, she only sees them as savages because they are not Christian. In this, her faith deserts her, because she is not able to forgive her captors, but instead, always views them as fiends. She writes, "[B]ut when they came near, there was a vast difference between the lovely faces of Christians, and foul looks of those heathens, which… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Mary Rowlandson a Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson 1682.  (2008, February 16).  Retrieved January 19, 2020, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/mary-rowlandson-narrative-captivity/4879

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"Mary Rowlandson a Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson 1682."  Essaytown.com.  February 16, 2008.  Accessed January 19, 2020.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/mary-rowlandson-narrative-captivity/4879.