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A Narrative Of The Captivity And Restoration Of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson
Mary (White) Rowlandson was a colonial American woman who was captured during an attack by Native Americans during King Philip's War and held ransom for 11 weeks. After being released, she wrote A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson, also known as The Sovereignty and Goodness of God. It is a work in the literary genre of captivity narratives. It is considered to be one of America's first bestsellers, four editions appearing in 1682 when it was first published.
There are apparent themes in this captivity narrative such as the uncertainty of life. Rowlandson learns from the attack that no one is guaranteed life, and life can be short. The stability of life including material things such as a house can disappear without warning at any given moment. Rowlandson realizes that she is lucky to even be alive; that is why she does not take her own life. During her captivity, she also finds that nothing is certain.
One day the Indians may be nice to her and treat her well, while the next day they may starve her without any explanation. They might tell her one-day she will be returned to her family while the next day she is dragged farther into the forest. She cannot take anything for granted because she is not sure if she will even survive this long journey.
The next theme is the unwavering faith in God's will. Throughout the whole experience, Rowlandson keeps her faith and returns everything that happens into a blessing or a doing of God. "Yet the Lord still showed mercy to me; and as He wounded me with one hand, so he healed me with the other". Much of this thought was common Puritan belief. Puritans believed that God arranges everything with a purpose.
Rowlandson learns that there is a thin line between savagery and civilization. Her forced journey from civilization to the wilderness changes her perception on what is and what is not "civilized". Because the narrative is from Mary Rowlandson's point of view, the story could be completely different if it were told by an outside observer.
This is the nature of a captivity narrative. It has value, not because it is historically accurate, but because it captures the perceptions of an individual living through particularly harrowing historical experiences.
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