|Illus. from: Mary Rowlandson. A Narrative of the Captivity, Sufferings and Removes of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson. |
Boston: Nathaniel Coverly, 1770.
Mary Rowlandson was captured in an attack on Lancaster, Massachusetts in 1676, during King Philip’s War.
By Simonetta Carr - Posted at The Place for Truth:
Mary Rowlandson’s account of her experience as prisoner of war became an immediate best-seller. In fact, it was the first best-seller in America, and the first of what became a popular genre: accounts of captivity among Native American tribes.
Her book – initially written for the benefit of her children – was first published with the title The soveraignty and goodness of God, together with the faithfulness of his promises displayed. It included a preface – probably written by Increase Mather – and a sermon by her husband at the end. It continued to be a popular book well into the 19th-century.
Today, her account is often discounted as partial and biased. She calls her captors “ravenous beasts” and “cruel heathens.” Her harrowing experience and her candor in describing her actions, feelings, and questions, however, cause readers to sympathize rather than criticize her.
Besides, some modern scholars recognize that her description of Algonquian life is fairly accurate, and her account introduces us to both compassionate and cruel captors. There is some ambivalence in her judgment, especially when she witnesses God’s continual provision of her enemies’ needs. In any case, the Algonquians are not the main characters in this tale, and are not mentioned in her conclusion. The protagonist is God. Every event is a part of his purpose in a much larger story, and what matters to Mary is her response to God’s providence in her life.