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Mary Rowlandson is real story of how an English woman was abducted by Native Americans during the time when England was still in the process of colonizing America. The narrative may be considered as one of the earliest…
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Mrs. Mary Rowlandson’s Changing Opinions of the Native Americans Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson is real story ofhow an English woman was abducted by Native Americans during the time when England was still in the process of colonizing America. The narrative may be considered as one of the earliest first-hand accounts of how the Native Americans actually treated the English, whom it considered as threats to their domains. As implied by the narrative, the colonists believed that it was their destiny to civilize and Christianize the pagans. From the perspective of the Native Americans though, the presence of the English were clearly threatening their control of the territory in which they have already established agricultural interests. However, Mrs. Rowlandson, who was captured by the Native Americans, was able to observe the cultural values of her captors. During her captivity, she was able to realize that the Native Americans did have their own degree of civilization although this may not fall within the standards of the Europeans.
Just like the rest of the colonists though, Mrs. Rowlandson actually had the impression that the Native Americans were plainly uncivilized brutes. In the narrative, that attack made by Native Americans on the English population only reinforced her very negative impression. She wrote that “on the tenth of February 1675, came the Indians with great numbers upon Lancaster.”1 She then proceeded to describe the brutality that the Native Americans attacked every household in the community. It was during the attack also that her home was burned down by the raiders and she and the members of her family were abducted. Her children were separated from her. The only one that was with her as she was carried away by a group of Native Americans was her youngest child, who was still a baby. It was not only her prejudice of the Native Americans that made her conclude at this point that they were indeed heathens. What she saw was more than enough to strengthen such notion. However, her religiousness might have been a factor also. Apparently, she had not exactly seen hell but when she saw how the Native Americans celebrate, she described the place as a “lively resemblance of hell.”2
During the course of her captivity though, she began to notice that the Native Americans are not at all the savages that she thought they are. This perspective was developed during that time when she was already made to work for those whom she considered ‘masters.’ It was also at that time when she noticed that the Native Americans were very resilient as they struggled also to survive the onslaught of the English. In one instance, she was paid by a chieftain to make a shirt. When she tried to give the payment to her master, she was told to keep it and for which she “bought a piece of horse flesh.”3 Apparently, such acts had made her gradually changed her mind about her captors although she still longs to be freed.
In the final parts of Mrs. Rowlandson’s narrative, it has become obvious that she had begun to appreciate the capabilities of the Native Americans in battling the English. It is no longer just because she saw how brutal their warriors were but how irrepressible they were as a people. She wrote that the “Indians derided the slowness and dullness of the English army, in its setting out.”4 Through this, it is clear that Mrs. Rowlandson had developed a more objective view of the capabilities of the Native Americans.
Mrs. Rowlandson’s experience with the Native Americans provides an alternative view of how they dealt with the English colonists. It is a fact that most literature at that time that discussed the situation were taken from the perspective of the colonists. Mrs. Rowlandson’s narrative may have been that of a captive but it was, nonetheless, a different account.
Rowlandson, Mary. Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson. 1862. Read More
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