Analysis of a Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary

651 Words Nov 25th, 2005 3 Pages
Mary White Rowlandson's account of her experience as a prisoner of the Algonkian Indians is one of the earliest and well known "captivity narratives," with over thirty editions published to date; yet, the depth of Rowlandson's narrative reaches far beyond the narrow definitions of that genre. It is impossible to overlook the staggering number of biblical metaphors, scriptural quotations, and obvious Puritanical paradigm. Indeed, at times it appears as though Mrs. Rowlandson is going to great lengths to demonstrate her faith and piety—often to the point where the line between "narrative" and "sermon" is somewhat obscured. The central theme of this narrative is not limited to merely being held prisoner by the Algonkian tribe; rather, …show more content…
Rowlandson refuses, deliberately or not, to accept responsibility for anything that occurred during her ordeal, and views everything (however trivial) as the "work of God." It is as though the real world laws of cause and effect, and simple common sense, elude her, for she can see no possible cause for anything in her experience that is not mandated by Divine Providence (which is always working in favor of the Christians, even if only to test their faith). She clearly sees herself in the role of Job, struggling between two opposing powers, with the Native Americans fulfilling the role of Satan, "the Adversary," and only God Almighty can decide her fate. At one point, she admires "the wonderful providence of God in preserving the heathen for farther affliction to our poor countrey." Later she writes, "God strengthned them to be a scourge to his people." (Ibid. p. 463)
Overall, the narrative is most interesting when it deals with factual issues and Rowlandson's interactions with the Algonkians, as the captivity narrative is a rich and fascinating genre. However, Rowlandson tends to treat her actual objective experiences as secondary to the grandiose "spiritual trek" she feels engaged in. The self-indulgent comparisons between her dilemma and Job's serve only to mask a very real responsibility for the horrible treatment of Native Americans, which ironically, played no small part in creating the

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