Mrs. Mary Rowlandson – a colonial American woman – displayed the moral behavior of accepting the fact that her many different destinies, and any other complications in her way were trials from God. Rowlandson was the author of a single work, a record of her eleven-week terrors, during her age of imprisonment by Algonquian Indians in the seventeenth century. This interpretation—commonly mentioned as Rowlandson’s Narrative—was one of the earliest autobiographical works distributed by an Anglo-American woman and was debatably the first Indian imprisonment narrative, marking the commencement of a new genre that would remain popular until the nineteenth century. The narrative showed the enlargement of the novel and the establishment of white approaches towards Native Americans. Rowlandson’s Narrative is also appreciated by scholars for what it exposes about Puritan and Native American philosophies and civilizations. Portraying connections amongst herself and God’s disciples, Rowlandson keeps herself buoyant through the torment. Without her solid reliance in Christianity, it is likely that Rowlandson would not have made it out of that horrid experience alive.
Mary Rowlandson, (later know as Mary Talcott ), is known as the woman that became a prisoner of war, a woman that had lost her family, a women that had lost everything, except for her faith in God. Rowlandson was no stranger to the word of the Bible. It is obvious to see, from her chronicle, that she has a high belief in God and his redeemable authority. Mary also believed that her race was “higher” than the native ethnicity. My inquiry is how do we see Mary as a symbolic piece of a so-called “good Christian,” when she shows some indications of unquestionable “un-godly” thoughts. Mary reminiscences that an advantage of her paramour losing a child was that “there was more room.” Mary also mentioned a time where she stole food from a child for the reason that it was having trouble masticating the tough meat. These two incidents display an additional side of Rowlandson, but it’s not a side that is indescribable or non-compatible with Mary, the “good Christian”. Mary is a creation of her civilization and consequently even more human than the “impeccable Christian” (unknown).
“In the first remove, Rowlandson speaks of how she “must go with those barbarous creatures” (Rowlandson 130), because at this point, she has just been taken captive by the Algonquian Indians. Mary stated that the first night was the horrid night that she as ever seen. “The roaring, and singing and dancing, and yelling of those black creatures in the night, which made the place a lively resemblance of hell” (Rowlandson), were her words. She thought very lowly of the Indians, even though she had no reason to have peace with them since they did however set fire to her settlement and took her captive. Nevertheless, if she considered herself, a godly Christian, she should not be saying such deceitful and awful words towards them.
Now going into the second remove, she states that she has to travel with the Indians into the wilderness, with her wounded child, and her wounded body. She speaks of losing strength, and falling with the child in arms to the ground. The Indians set her and her babe upon a horse, while going down a steep hill, and they fell off of the animal. The Indians “like inhumane creatures, laughed, and rejoiced to see it ” (Rowlandson). Later that night, it began to snow, so they stopped, and Mary had to sleep in the snow, with her child by a small fire. Her wound had grown so really stiff, to the point it would hurt for her to move. The next morning she says that the Lord helped her get through that terrible night alive, along with her child in arms. She said that the “Lord upheld me with His gracious and merciful spirt” (Rowlandson).
Going into the third remove, Mary states that her child was in very critical condition because of her wound. The Indians had not feed them from Wednesday to Saturday, with the exception of a little cold water. Later that day, in the afternoon, they came in the midst of an Indian town, called Wenimesset, just of Quabaug. When they arrived, she stated, “When we were come, Oh the number of pagans (now merciless enemies) that there came about me” (Rowlandson). She remembers that the next day was the Sabbath, and that she had been indeed thoughtless of God’s sacred time. She felt that the Lord presented her with mercy, even with the numerous Sabbaths she has wasted.
Then that day came a man unto her visits named Robert Pepper . He has remained with the Indians for a significant period of time, and got permission to see her, with knowledge of her being in Wenimesset. He demonstrates Mary to mend her wound with oaken leaves, as he did when he was wounded. Her side then healed. Then she lay with her dying babe that could depart the world at any moment, moaning from day in to day out, with nothing to make the child jovial or to revive its spirt or physique. The Indians nor her master had any sympathy, giving her multiple threats saying, “Your master will knock your child in the head,” (Rowlandson)if her child did not hush. Later on that night, unfortunately, Rowlandson’s child dies in her arms. The child being about six years and five months old, Mary lays beside her dead child for the rest of the night. It took her strong faith in God, along with any other strength that she had left in her body, to not end her miserable life, at that moment.
The next morning, after the Indians understood, that indeed, her child was dead, they sent her to her master’s wigwam, but they made her leave her child in the spot where it died, rather than bring it with her. After she had spent some time at her master’s home, Mary went to ask the Indians what they had did with her child’s body. The Indians told her that “it was upon the hill” (Rowlandson). “She then goes to see her ten-year-old child Mary, who was taken at the door by a “Praying Indian” and sold later for a gun” (Rowlandson). She is heartbroken at the fact that the Indians forbid her to see her daughter because whenever her daughter sees her, she cries. One of her children was dead, another one in a wilderness different from hers, and another one that she could not come near.
She then asked the Lord could he give her some type of sign of hope, and with her request, the Lord answered it fairly quickly. Her son, came before her, he told her that he was with a smaller pack of Indians just six miles away. He asked was his youngest sibling alive, and said that he had seen Mary. She was very grateful for his presence, knowing that he was still alive, and that she finally knew where he was. She then learns that the Indians had joined forces to attack at Medfield. The Indians then return from Medfield, giving shouts of satisfaction over the amount they have murdered and carrying English scalps. One of the Native Americans bid Rowlandson a Bible he has stolen, and she accepts it. She found ease in a passage of scripture which speaks of God’s rallying people together and putting curses upon their foes. With another one of her removes in the close future, Mary tells the eight English kids and the one English woman – Goodwife Joslin – goodbye, which they are also being held captive. She takes comfort in her faith in God and their faith in him. By using a scripture from the Bible, Mary begs the woman, who is close to giving birth, and also already has an infant child, not to carry out her thought to run away from captivity.
Skipping to her twelfth remove, when the group Mary was with gets ready to travel, her master agrees sell her back to her husband, and at that point she if filled with joy and rejoices. Her paramour came back from a burial and caught Mary reading her Bible, and throws it out of the wigwam’s doors, and Mary is quick to run after it, and is determined not to let her see it again. The mistress then slaps Rowlandson in her face later on because of Mary complaining about the load she had to carry. Mary then says, “Their insolency grew worse and worse” (Rowlandson). After travelling for a moment, Mary’s mistress states that she has to go back, and the master will meet back with them in three days. So now Mary has been left with her rude mistress and without her best Indian friend, both in misery. Rowlandson then collects nuts, sticks, and anything she can find to avoid starving and the cold weather. She is prohibited from sleeping in the lodge because there is company. When Mary refuses, a guest raises his sword to her. She records that the exact man, and others like him, now stroll around in Boston “under the appearance of a Friend-Indian” (Rowlandson). She eventually acquires housing and nourishment for the following two nights from two different wigwams. When traveling the next day, Mary states that “her skin is off of her back” from carrying her load, and the only comforting response that she is given is: “that it would be no matter if my head were off too” (Rowlandson).
Finally getting to her twentieth remove, it starts off as saying that Mary’s group has moved about four miles and has built a wigwam big enough to hold at least 100 people for the special day. They are told that the governor isn’t going to send for the hostages because of his fury at the defeat at Sudbury. Mary’s sister attempts to see her, but her master angrily provokes her and makes her leave in the rain. Indians gather from place to place for the wonders of the dancing day. Amongst them, Goodwife Kettle – who was also apprehended in Lancaster. Rowlandson pleads to visit her child, Mary, who is about a mile away, but she is prohibited: “They made use of their tyrannical power whilst they had it: but through the Lord’s mercy, their time was now but short” (Rowlandson).
On Sunday, Mr. John Hoar comes with a third document from the Council. The Indians shoot near him as a display of authority. When the Indians have talked with him to their approval, they permit Rowlandson to see him. He speaks of her husband and friends, saying they are okay, and hands her a pound of tobacco from her husband, which she sells for nine British coins. She requests if she can go home with Mr. Hoar, and they reject her wishes. John then invited the leaders to a small dinner, since most of the food he brought was taken from his bags that night. The Indians were ashamed and claimed that it was a bad Indian that committed the crime. They ate little so that they could prepare for the dance. The dance included a number of eight dancers, have men and women.
The Indians go on to say that Mary can only be claimed by her spouse, but the master chooses to send another Indians to tell Mr. Hoar that Mary can leave if he provides the master with some type of liquor. Then King Philip summons Rowlandson and states that he will grant her with some great news and put in a worthy saying if she brings him money, corn, and tobacco. That Tuesday, the General Court agrees to release Mary. Mary is now allowed to leave from captivity, many Indians sending her good farewells, requesting her to send goods, and proposing her with gifts. A Native American couple once presented her with the idea to run away with them, but Rowlandson stated that she would be patient and wait until it was God’s time. She then thanks God that, regardless of living among barbarians who be afraid of no one, none of them ever sexually disturbed her physically or vocally. She vows that she does not tell lies to protect her character, but declares this to God’s glory.
Overall, Mary Rowlandson was a one of a kind woman. She set the stepping stones for a whole different world of genre, and her story has become a classic ever since. She kept her faith strong, no matter the problem that was thrown at her. Plus, after she came back to her husband, many people believed that she died almost 30 years before her actual death date. Nevertheless, her story, her legacy, and her life, will never be forgotten.