For almost a century and a half, America was merely a group of colonies scattered along the eastern seaboard of the North American continent—colonies from which a few hardy souls tentatively ventured westward. After a successful rebellion against the motherland, America became the United States, a nation.
Jade is a graduate of Aberdeen University in Philosophy and Anthropology and remains interested in these areas while training as a teacher.
Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Her diary accounts for her capture to her return, although written a few years post her release. Specifically, Rowlandson observes her experience in relation to God and the bible, her capture being expressed as a trial from God which she must endure with faith; only in doing so would she survive and remain a true Christian woman suitable for Puritan society.
It is through this Christian perspective that she judges the Native Americans, creating an obvious bias against their culture.
Given this her narrative can be understood in terms of how she would wish to represent herself and her captivity to those readers, and so not wholly understood as a completely accurate account.
Rowlandson was a respected woman within Puritan society and as such would be expected to represent all that was customary of fine Christian women. Therefore, any account of her capture which seemed contrary to conventional beliefs could risk her status and respectability. Toulouse argues that Rowlandson would be competing for status in the new social setting as a result of the war The motivation for publishing her account seems to have been to promote the puritan belief that God is the active agent who punishes and saves Christian believers Scarbrough Hence, her freedom to voice her own opinion was greatly restricted by both social expectations and for the sake of endorsing the good of Christianity.
Her account would not have been published had it wavered from her faith, any suffering had to be understood to have come from God and to have been endurable to the point of justifiable.
Religion Rowlandson makes continual references to the bible throughout her narrative to support her actions, causing her captivity to resemble that of a religious pilgrimage. Similar writings were common at the time, particularly for women who usually lacked a public voice in other forms.
The importance of religion in her society is evidenced throughout the text so much so that it seems patent that all social judgements by her and those around her would rely upon correct biblically prescribed behaviour.
I told them it was the Sabbath day, and desired them to let me rest, and told them I would do as much more tomorrow; to which they answered me they would break my face. The Sabbath would be of great importance in Puritan society and acknowledging it would have allowed Rowlandson greater compassion, not only from God but also from her own society.
In being understood to have acknowledged such Christian behaviours Rowlandson would garner sympathy from those around her and her status in society would be much better upheld in its freshly volatile state.
The feminine role of maternity is repeated throughout as Rowlandson meditates on her children. In order to continue to survive Rowlandson began to trade, which was not a commonly accepted activity of Christian women at the time.
However, her usual objects of trade were knitted and sewn goods; products which were created by women within her own society thus ensuring the maintenance of her femininity despite bartering.
This is though the only deviation she seems to make from common puritan views of femininity, even her descriptions of the Native women fall to the scrutiny of puritan morals. Rowlandson is a slave of Weetamoo, a woman of high status within the Native community in her own right; she is not reliant on the position of men to uphold her social status.
It is understood that Weetamoo would have had a political role which most likely Rowlandson had been made aware of yet she refused to accept this as such a role is solely the occupation of men in her society. However, Rowlandson does equate appearance and status; "when they came near, there was a vast difference between the lovely Faces of Christians, and the foul looks of those Heathens" Rowlandson, This total distrust though does slightly waver within the text and perhaps would more so had Rowlandson not been trying to meet social expectations.
Some Natives were described as helping her, if only briefly.
Many more opportunities though were taken to criticise of the Natives behaviour. This is in comparison to the situation after her release as, although still in an unstable condition, all kindness shown to her is greater appreciated by Rowlandson.
It is clear that, as a captor, understanding was not going to be forthcoming from Rowlandson yet this has allowed for a greater observation of the cultural differences and expectations. This has enabled historians to gain a better insight into the Native American tactics during the war.Native American occupy a unique place in North American history.
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