In The Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson, the Wampanoag Indians capture Mary, an English Puritan woman, and hold her prisoner for three months. Faced with many tribulations during her captivity, Mary turns to God to help her bear them. Mary's tribulations with the Indians make her feel as if she is suffering because of her Puritan beliefs. I feel that Mary grows morally from these cultural shocking tribulations, but since one of her purposes is to spread Christianity, she gives all the credit to God by using bible verses.
Although Mary's purpose in this text is to demonize Indians, in my opinion, Mary humanizes them instead. Mary uses her experiences with Wampanoag Indians to attempt to demonize them, but essentially tells us about a culture she is not accustomed to. Through various subtexts, Mary undermines the stated purpose of her narrative and provides an effective countertext.
Mary and her Puritan Beliefs
Throughout this travel narrative, Mary turns to the scriptures of God to help her through her captivity. Growing up with Puritan beliefs, Mary knows that God already has a plan for her, and His words will guide her through her struggles with the Indians. Similarly to Job, Mary says, "and I only am escaped alone to tell the news" (485). Mary feels this way because her Puritan family has collapsed around her, and she claims to be the only one that survived the Indian attack on her village. Mary feels as if she is chosen to spread and stay true to her Puritan roots.
As a Puritan woman, Mary does not believe in bringing attention to herself. In the First Remove Mary refers to the Indians as "black creatures in the night" while she watches the Indians dance (486). Mary describes the Indians this way because, unlike her, they consider dancing a tradition. Mary feels that the Indians represent the Devil, and their dancing reminds her of Hell. Mary feels this way because the Indians are willingly brings attention to themselves by dancing. Mary is appalled while watching the Indians dance because the Puritans do not believe in any showy activities. They strived on hard work and the study of the Lord.