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Sarah Spanbauer

American Literature
Close Reading Essay

Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he has made in the earth.
Of thirty-seven persons who were in this one house, none escaped either present
death, or a bitter captivity, save only one, who might say as he, And I only am
escaped alone to tell the News (Job 1.15). There were twelve killed, some shot,
some stabbed with their spears, some knocked down with their hatchets. When we
are in prosperity, Oh the little that we think of such dreadful sights, and to see our
dear friends, and relations lie bleeding out their heart -blood upon the ground.
There was one who was chopped into the head with a hatchet, and stripped naked,
and yet was crawling up and down. It is a solemn sight to see so many Christians
lying in their blood, some here, and some there, like a company of sheep torn by
wolves, all of them stripped naked by a company of hell-hounds, roaring, singing,
ranting, and insulting, as if they would have torn our very hearts out; yet the Lord
by His almighty power preserved a number of us from death, for there were twentyfour of us taken alive and carried captive.
I had often before this said that if the Indians should come, I should choose rather
to be killed by them than taken alive, but when it came to the trial my mind
changed; their glittering weapons so daunted my spirit, that I chose rather to go
along with those (as I may say) ravenous beasts, than that moment to end my
days; and that I may the better declare what happened to me during that grievous
captivity, I shall particularly speak of the several removes we had up and down the
wilderness. (259)
The Captive Voice of Mary Rowlandson
Before this bloody scene where the Indians unleashed a brutal killing of English
settlers, Mary Rowlandson lead a common life---raising children, meeting the
expectations of a ministers wife and devoting her life to the Puritan faith. In the
17th century, women did not have the ability to hold public offices, preach the word
of God, or have superiority over men. Women were expected to be obedient of their
husbands. Women roles included cooking and making clothes for the family. As a
direct result of her captivity, it allowed her to have the opportunity to write about

her experiences with the Indians. However, Mary Rowlandson was limited to what
she can tell within society because she was a woman that wanted to uphold her
Puritan culture. It is essential that the reader examines closely to accounts she
mentions and the experiences she encountered with the Indians. Throughout A
Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration, her writing reveals how much of her
personal views of the Indians havent changed. Or did they? One can argue that it
may be possible that her own personal views of the Indians changed, but if she
completely told the truth she would be chastised by her community when she came
back. When she documented her experiences, she already wrote ahead of herself
knowing the expectations of her thoughts and her behaviors as a Puritan woman
giving the audience a historical account of her captors and how she lived. It is
clearly written to reinforce Mary Rowlandsons image as a Puritan ministers wife
carefully taking the initiative to write to her advantage. She adjusted her narrative
to satisfy the Puritans. Her motivation behind this account was to promote Puritans
the courage to seek God through troubled times for he saves Christian. This style of
writing is almost admirable and uplifting, but she combines a direct style of
describing highly dramatized situations with religious excerpts from the Bible. Mary
Rowlandson lived strictly to Puritan principles that believed American settlers had
superiority over Native Americans. Meaning that Indians would be condemn to hell
because they can never receive Gods salvation unless the Indians broke away from
their culture. Keep in mind, Rowlandson wrote this after her account of being the
Indians captive. One can make an observation of Rowlandsons repression of anger,
depression throughout her journey on this pilgrimage.
In writing this narrative from the beginning, Rowlandson perceived that God was
punishing his people for attempting to break away from God. She illustrates the

relationship of the Indians and the colonists. Surprisingly, after witnessing the
destruction the Indians caused, she remarks that God allowed this to happen not
the Indians, but to God. Rowlandson thought this was simply Gods form of
punishment to her for she writes, Come, behold the works of the Lord, what
desolations he has made in the earth (259). She depicts herself as an Israelite
held captive by the Babylonians. The only remote way to survive through her
pilgrimage is to seek Gods help. She further examines her heart where there were
times that she was fearful of receiving the Lord and would turn her back to live with
sin. When she quotes the scriptures, Rowlandsons appearance of her captivity
unfolds her perception of the Indians symbolizing as instruments of God to
demonstrate Gods covenant with the Puritans. Rowlandson truly believes God use
the Indians to punish the colonists sins. She mentions God as being her conscience
constantly almost every day during her capture. As a result, she would seek the
Bible to answer all of her problems and it comforted her.
Rowlandson states Of thirty-seven persons who were in this one house, none
escaped either present death, or a bitter captivity, save only one, who might say as
he, And I only am escaped alone to tell the News (Job 1.15). This passage
describes the casualties the American colonists suffered when the Indians
ambushed and destroyed an entire village. This was otherwise known as King
Philips War and their purpose for the commitment of this war was to push the
English colonists out of the land. She makes references to the Bible to create an
atmosphere that shows the difficulty of surviving the captivity and the salvation of
God. This statement tells the reader thirty-seven people died in one house and she
is the only who escaped to tell the News she will deliver from the word of God. The
direct of quotation allows the reader to understand the importance of Bible and how

easily she uses it to deepen the readers understanding of her story. Puritans did
not need to use extra resources to explicate the Bible.
The speech reveals the dreadful sights of her dear friends and family lie bleeding
out their heart-blood upon the ground. The horrors of seeing people chopped into
the head with a hatchet, stripped naked, and yet was crawling up and down are
described vividly like it just happened yesterday. This allows the narrator to create
a connection to the reader by showing the gruesome aftermath of the war. It
almost allows the writer to gain sympathy from the reader that it was too hard to
forgive the Indians for what pain of infliction they caused the captive. Rowlandson
further uses words of imagery to describe the scene of the bloody war. She
compares Puritans who died to a company of sheep torn by wolves. And she
refers the Indians as wolves who are roaring, singing, ranting, and insulting and
tearing peoples hearts out among them. She evaluates the Indians as they are
celebrating a victory .But, God allowed twenty-four captives to live in agony. The
impression the reader gets when reading this that Rowlandson description is almost
criticizing the Indians for assisting a sacrilegious ritual and are cannibals for
devouring the English settlers whom they have killed.
At the beginning of the narrative, she referred the Wampanoag Indians as ravenous
beasts to describe her captors. These references to Indians becoming ravenous
beast will most certainly attract the readers attention. She describes the Indians in
a way that Indians are inhumane and she cant possibly describe an appropriate
definition except that the Indians acted almost like animals. When she makes this
hypothetical statement, I had often before this said that if the Indians should come,
I should choose rather to be killed by them than taken alive, but when it came to
the trial my mind changed (259). She chooses to make this statement as a proper

reaction to assume the possibility of the Indians abducting her. This was a reaction
to witnessing her sister and nephews death and knowing her future that she would
die is she didnt give in to the Indians. She mentions another reason for not dying
in the text that she will choose to live to write about the removes she faced.
Rowlandson makes the discovery and progresses as a leader for the Puritans that
were captives of the Indians. She possesses many qualities that can surface as she
becomes a heroine in this narrative. Rowlandson describes her quest a search for
her identity, one that would fulfill her lost soul. Interestingly enough, as she is
determined to survive through the captivity, she breaks away from her Puritan belief
and adopts a understanding of the Indians culture. She learns the importance of
surviving the wilderness. However, she does not break away from the Puritan
belief exactly. There are instances where she breaks away from the Puritan beliefs
by choosing to be held captive by the Indians. Survival allows her to regain her
devotion to a much closer relationship with God. Surviving and the lives of her
children were more important than the Puritan beliefs.
The acknowledgement of her sins as a Christian remained as step toward the
process of spiritual and physical salvation. Rowlandson looks accordingly to her
past and makes important decisions of allowing God to come into her life more as
the readers read on. She also invites the reader by making another connection for
the reader to do the same. To blame God for these misfortune and repent to God
and he will promise a renewed fate. Rowlandson goes even deeper by allowing the
reader to see how much anger, repression and resentment towards God. For she
states, yet the Lord by His almighty power preserved a number of us from death,
for there were twenty-four of us taken alive and carried captive.

Even though, she feels the pain. Interestingly, she is able to write an account
without feeling attached almost unemotional and willing to pay the price for her