The following sample essay describing an experience of kidnapping by Native Americans in A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson.
In A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson, the author, a puritan woman, tells her dreadful experience using a pain style of writing to describe her kidnapping by Native Americans. This captivity narrative marks not only the relationship between the captive and the captor but, more importantly, conveys the powerful force of the faith to survive.
Rowlandsons work depicts how a woman’s faith can carry her through uncertain moments in captivity. Mary Rowlandson, in this literary work, portrays her beliefs in God as a powerful transformative force that helps her to survive during captivity. The narrators use some phases of her capture as separation, transition, adoption, and release to recount her transformation from a woman who is a passive, peaceful witness to an independent, outspoken woman.
This narrative accounts for Mary Rowlandsons capture and all the events that she undergoes until her release after almost three months in 1675. Mary was a colonial American woman. She and her children were captured and taken as prisoners by the Wampanoag when her husband was not at home. The main character went through many hardships as the abrupt abduction, scarcity of food, the loss of one of her child in her arms after a prolonged agony. During this narration, the author mentions many bible passages and her gratitude to God to keep her alive.
This literature is organized in removes that are the journeys with the Indians while in captivity. It starts with a horror chapter that will change her life forever.
In order to emphasize her separation from her comfortable and safe living style, Rowlandson describes in specific detail the violent raid on her home in the beginning of her story. She incorporates graphic details of the violence as she refers to the bullets, saying the bullets seemed to fly like hail (133). Hail is seen as a potential natural threat that causes damages, not only material but fatal in intensity. Thus, Rowlandsons comparison recognizes the unstoppable fury from the Indians shots. This image is reinforced with another scene when Native Americans shot constantly to the Puritans houses as if someone had thrown heavy stones at them (133), displaying that the sound of the bullets is violent as the Indians intention to destroy everything that is in their way. Blood is an element constantly used in this part of the narrative to express the wicked consequences that Indians caused. In remembering one of these events, the author narrates how some in our house were fighting for their lives, others wallowing in their blood (133), which is a vehicle for their message and a framework of the close line between life and death. Her narrative is intense and at the same time cruel when she explains that Indians did not have remorse when stripping and cutting open a mans naked body (132). Rowlandson explores the ways in which her community was treated by the enemy, not as human beings not even as animals.
The author further describes the raid, and stresses the violence by emphasizing the vulnerability of the victims. Mary Rowlandson describes a defenseless mother and her infant son being slaughtered (133). A clear witness of this traumatic event is also another child, Rowlandsons son, who is unaware of the events that are taking place at that moment but he became one of the fatalities of this bloody massacre. Rowlandson speaks of bullets passing through her childs body, and her effort to protect him with her hands(133). Her arms have a significant meaning in this part of the narration since it recognizes that the main character does not have weapons to defend herself or her child and in a desperate attempt, she uses her body as a shelter to protect the vulnerable child. In addition, the text shows the moral collapse of a desperate man who is begging for his life and promising money in exchange for mercy (132). The words begging and men are not commonplace to describe a puritan man. Men were considered the heads and leaders of their houses who cannot show weakness. However, the author portrays a man as defenseless and fearful in the face of the savage barbarism and the inhumane actions committed in the town of Lancaster. Many people could have lost their faith after facing such a violent chain of events, but Rowlandson remains faithful.
Ultimately, and despite this shocking and unexpected event, Rowlandson never loses sight of her faith. She is a devout Puritan who used scripture in her literary work. In fact, biblical references and words related to God, are constant elements presented in this narrative that expresses the relevance of her faith in every action of her life. She uses the word heaven instead of the sky at the beginning of the narrative while describing how some houses were burned, and the smoke ascending to heaven(132). This last phase not only have a physical, but it also has a spiritual connotation, since they can be interpreted as prayers ascending to heaven to be listened by God. Indeed, Rowlandsons sister last words before dying, reinforce the idea that God will listen to our prayers when her oldest sister realized that her dear son died and Rowlandson was injured. She preferred to die with her son and asked God to finish her pain, immediately after she finished her petition, a bullet impacted her body (133).
The author also establishes the strong convictions that Puritans and especially Puritan women have towards family and the Divine Providence. The most important role for Puritan women was that of the mother, and it can clearly be seen in her sisters affliction, while facing the loss of a child and her immersion in an immeasurable pain, that she prefers to be dead. On the other hand, the narrator accepts Gods design as part of His work. Rowlandson says that the Lord in His infinite mercy has saved twenty-four Puritans souls (134). Even though there were many people from Lancaster who lost their lives, the author sees as a miracle that she and other twenty-tree people are still alive. The first sign of faith delivering the narrator from this crisis is her acknowledgment that the Lord is responsible for her survival.
Comparing the celebration of the Indians to hell in The First Move section, the author emphasizes the horrors of her separation by reflecting upon all that she has lost. She emphasizes the imminent difference between her civilized and proper culture from her viewpoint and the barbarism from Indians. This outrageous contrast is reinforced, when Rowlandson remarks their animalistic qualities as roaring, yelling, and dancing at night during a celebration (134). The author compares this festivity to hell as imagery to demonize her abductors. This is complemented with the narrators nostalgic and afflicted tone when she remembers all things and loved ones who have died (134-135). It denotes the differences between these two cultures, one that is considered moral and the other savage. A test of faith can be seen for the narrator while encountering with unfamiliar people and situations that go beyond her understanding.
Puritans closed their minds to any alternatives. They believed that there was only one true religion and that it was the duty of the civil authorities to impose it, forcibly if necessary, upon all citizens in the interest of saving their souls. Nonconformists could expect no mercy. Dissenters would be punished, maybe even executed.
Their isolation in the New World, the harshness and dangers of their new lives, and their sense that they were a Chosen People, insured that American Puritanism would remain more severe than that which they had left in England.