Mary Rowlandson’s Captivity

A look at the style of narrative used by Mary Rowlandson who spent three months as a captive with the Naragansett Indians in the seventeenth century.

Mary Rowlandson’s description of her experiences being held captive by Indians during the Metacom Wars in17th century New England represent the birth of a narrative genre. What characterizes the Rowlandson’s narrative as particular is both the vivid detail of her experience and the ways her survival is woven through the Calvinist doctrine’s of New England’s Puritan religious communities. The narrative itself represents the sheer trauma of Rowlandson’s experiences in a language that appeals relentlessly to salvation discourse and it is apparent that her religious passions sustained her to some degree during her three months as a hostage with the Naragansett Indians. It is also difficult to deny the ways the narrative is written after-the-fact and represents a particular reconstruction of the experience. It is in reading the narrative is a context of post-traumatic writing that it becomes possible to understand how Rowlandson’s writing constitutes a particular act of recovery.

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