Mary Rowlandson’s Narrative of her Captivity and Restoration represents a fascinating confession of the woman, who did not only survive in the Indian captivity but also managed to reaffirm her faith in God in hard times. It is possible to argue that in her narrative, Rowlandson does not attempt to tell a true story of a physical capture, instead, the author focuses readers’ attention on her spiritual transformation.
From the beginning of the narrative, Rowlandson emphasizes her piousness and faith in God, which are tested by the Indians’ unexpected attack. It seems that the heathens make everything possible to strip Rowlandson of her hope and faith. The Indians kill Rowlandson’s sister and her son before the Puritan’s very eyes. The narrator intentionally focuses her readers’ attention on the episode, where the woman, devastated by her son’s death, pleads he Lord to have mercy on her and let her pass away, as well: “And Lord, let me die with them” (Rowlandson). It seems that God does not linger and bestows his mercy on the grieving woman, who dies immediately, “struck with a bullet” (Rowlandson). The author draws Biblical parallels between the dead Christians and “sheep torn by wolves” (Rowlandson). The narrator compares the heathens to “wolves” and “hell-hounds” inflicting pain and suffering on the Lambs of God (Downing 253). Nonetheless, the author makes it clear that even confronted by mortal danger the Puritans do not lose their faith.
As the narrative progresses, Rowlandson continues to describe the events that helped her reaffirm and strengthen her faith in God. In Wenimesset, one of the Indian towns, the narrator finds a companion, Robert Pepper, who manages to convince the wretched woman that the hardships experienced by her are sent by the Lord testing her loyalty (Rowlandson). Pepper also comfort Rowlandson and encourages her not to abandon hope and rely on God’s wisdom. It becomes evident that Rowlandson heeds her spiritual advisor’s piece of advice. In her time of need, when her “wounded baby departs this sorrow world”, the woman finds strength to overcome seemingly unbearable pain and praise God for having preserved her “in the use of [her] reason and senses in that distressed time” (Rowlandson). The narrator recalls Jacob, the grieving father from the Bible, whose children also were taken by God, and finds solace in the Bible (Downing 254). Rowlandson’s faith sustains her mind and spirit and makes her continue living. Moreover, Rowlandson receives the Bible from the Indians in the hour of utmost need. After reading the verses, the woman comes to the realization that he does not “desire to live to forget Scripture”, and she begin to revel in a newly attained feeling of confidence and joy (Rowlandson). Thus, the author experiences spiritual metamorphoses.
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Upon having endured all hardships and trials, Rowlandson confesses that everything she had to survive was a valuable experience sent by the Lord. The narrator makes it evident that the tribulations she endured in the Indian captivity taught her not to cling to the trifles, which used to seem meaningful: “It is good for me that I have been afflicted… The Lord hath showed me the vanity of these outward things.” (Rowlandson). The writer admits that her wanderings with the Indians were not a punishment, they happened to become a spiritual quest, upon which she was made to embark (Strong 355-356). During this quest, the woman not only manages to reaffirm her faith but also learns to discern truly meaningful things from the superficial ones.
Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson is a vivid example of a person’s ability not to give way to frustration and despair during tough times. Rowlandson does not seek to arouse readers’ compassion and does not strive to give a detailed account of her trials experienced in the captivity. The narrator makes it evident that physical sufferings and hardships that befell her during the wanderings pale in comparison to the valuable experience she has acquired. The author celebrates the fact that she managed to overcome disillusionment and find solace and inspiration in the Bible in her time of need. Thus, Rowlandson convinces her audience that the bread of afflictions tasted in the captivity provided her with a chance to reaffirm her faith in God.
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