Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Rowlandson, Captivity Day #2

Please answer one of the following questions, or post any other comments or questions you might have. You may answer this for Wednesday (despite the class being cancelled) or for Friday.

--We discussed Rowlandson's deeply ambivalent attitude toward Native Americans last class. Do you find that she has changed or improved her attitude be the end of her narrative?

--We also discussed how Rowlandson's narrative seemed to contain two somewhat competing impulses: the personal narrative of her own spiritual life and the testing of the community's faith in King Philip's War. Which do you find dominates the end of the narrative and what does she have to say about either herself or the community?


  1. Although it is apparent that both a testing of the community's faith and Rowlandson's personal spiritual journey are shown in this narrative; it is pretty obvious that towards the end, gears shift more toward Rowlandson and her trials. She states on page 266, "...when God calls a person to anything, and through never so many difficulties, yet He is fully able to carry them through and make them see, and say they have been gainers thereby. And I hope I can say in some measure as David did, 'It has good for me that I have been afflicted."' She feels that this journey she was forced into was actually part of God's plan. I don't understand how someone could think so, but since it goes along with her Puritan doctrine it is believable. Rowlandson also says "I have learned to look beyond present and smaller troubles, and to be quieted under them" (267). It is evident that she is very humbled by her experience and it has taught her to appreciate the value of life, food, and Christian community.

  2. I defiantly think that Rowlandson is focusing on following puritan doctorine and how this ordeal for her was a spiritual journey.I think that God is what she focuses on the most at the end because it was what was expected of her and it was written after the fact. I strongly believe that God probably did not play a huge role during the situation. She was in survival mode and constantly hungry, which does not exactly make you want to think God was testing you and that was a good thing.

  3. I believe that Mary Rowlandson's narrative focuses more heavily on her own spiritual life than it does on the community. I believe this because the narrative is predominately a highly personal narrative detailing the hardships she suffered while captured by Native Americans. I find it difficult to view the narrative as focusing on anything other than Rowlandson's personal and spiritual life during that time.

    Anything Rowlandson has to say about herself is revealed indirectly towards her writings about God. She believed that God never abandoned her during a time of great turmoil and even after all she had been through she believed that God "laid upon [her] less than [she] deserved" (250). Clearly, she believed she deserved everything that happened to her because that was what God wanted. Her faith never wavers throughout the narrative and she frequently quotes scripture. And when she is finally allowed to leave, she thanks God most wholeheartedly. I believe that without her faith, there would be little left to Rowlandson's personality. I do not think we would have this narrative because I don't know how long she would have lasted under captivity without her strong faith to keep her going.

    ~Shannon Durington

  4. "I have been in the midst of those roaring lions, and savage bears, that feared neither God, nor man, nor the devil, by night and day, alone and in company, sleeping in all sorts together, and yet no one of them ever offered the least abuse of unchastity to me in word or action. Though some are ready to say I speak it for my own credit, I speak it in the presence of God and to his glory" (263).

    I find it interesting that Rowlandson, as a woman, must assert that she was not subjected to sexual abuse while held captive; this implies that if she had been sexually assaulted that it would have been seen as a reflection on her character and, most likely, a judgment by God. If God is constantly judging us, and the events of our lives are the outcomes of those judgments, then the fact that Rowlandson was not raped is proof of God’s favor. In attributing her lack of assault to God, whom she believes is constantly casting judgment upon people, she did “speak it for [her] own credit.” A woman at this time, writing her story for the purpose of publication, would have been under intense scrutiny. Given that her most valuable tool would have been her social standing, it makes sense that Rowlandson would slip this paragraph in at the end of her story, thereby reassuring the reader of her “purity.”

  5. Rowlandson's ambivalence towards her captors is a continuing theme into the latter part of the narrative. In the Nineteenth Remove, Rowlandson embraces two "Christian Indians" and makes the remark "though they were Indians, I got them by the hand, and burst out into tears" (Rowlandson 256) She attempts to explain how, at that moment, her emotion overpowers her abhorrence towards any closeness or physical contact with the Indians.

    Further towards the end, Rowlandson's opinion of Indians is still negative, using dehumanizing language to describe them ("I have been in the midst of those roaring lions, and savage bears" [Rowlandson 262]), basically considering her captors second-class citizens compared to the "good" Christians.