In the narrative we get to see how things unfolded from her side. We get a first person’s account of the events that occurred during the captivity and the restoration of Mrs Mary Rowlandson by the Nipmuc Native Americans during King Philip’s war.
The narrative describes how Mary and her small community were attacked by native Indians who were looking for supplies. These people attacked the village where Mary and her people lived and killed most of them taking away a couple of others. The narrative is a very good source of information on the culture and the ways of living of the Native American communities.
From the narrative we get to learn a lot about both the Native Americans and the Europeans settlers who arrived in the new land. The narrative also did a good job in describing Mary’s community and their beliefs. Though the narrative is biased against the Native American communities, it does a good job in giving a critical insight into the lives of the Native Americans.
The narrative reflects Rowlandson’s culture as a conservative Christian culture. They were all strict Christians who believed so much in God. This is seen where she keeps on referring to God in everything that happens to her. When the Native Americans attacked her village she was hoping that God would keep them safe and protect them from the Indians. Rowlandson and her community were very religious people. Even during the tough times Mary said that it was God’s will.
They suffered a lot and lost their family, their friends and their property and in all this Mary said that it was all given by the lord and therefore the lord has taken back what he gave them. This can also be seen as being religious fanatic to some extent. Mary also uses a lot of bible verses. In the narrative she references a lot of verses from the bible while trying to explain her situation. She uses this verses to encourage herself, to justify things that happens and to console herself too.
From the narrative we can also learn a lot about the culture of the Native American people. The narrative provides a good picture of the daily practices, their religion and other things. The Native Americans were involved in slave trading as seen in the narrative. After attacking Rowlandson’s village they took with them some captives. These people all went to different people and were the property of different masters. They were then exchanged for other goods. (Vaca 1528-1536)
From the narrative we can also conclude that the Native Americans were religious. Mary Rowlandson describes the practices that these people did which were religious. For example after the successful attack on the village they danced and sang around fire. This was a way of appeasing their god for the success.
They were also very merry people. They sang and danced a lot. When they had had a bumper harvest and even when they had worn a battle against the Europeans. They rejoiced a lot. Their staple food was maize, beans and squash. This diet was supplemented by the game that they hunted in the forests and the fish from the rivers.
The Native Americans were very good hunters. They could follow a dear for hours and hours until it got tired and then kill it for food. The Native Americans were also good with the forests and it was easy for them to find their way around and therefore this made hunting even easier. There was also role division between genders.
The hunting was mainly done by the men in the communities. They were the strong ones who could track a dear for a whole day. The women and the girls were trained to be good on the field and in catering around the house. Mary refused to eat this food in the first days but got used to it when the hunger became too much. (Vaca 1528-1536)
In their culture land was hereditary. It was passed down from generation to generation. The inheritance of land in the Native American communities was matrilineal. The land was based to the female descendants irrespective of their marital status.
From the narrative we can also see the plight of the Native American people. The Englishmen and other Europeans had invaded their land and now were waging war and pushing them away and this is why they most probably retaliated. Mary describes how these communities had to pack up and run whenever the Englishmen got close to them. They had to carry along their children and the elderly through the difficult terrains. The Europeans were also better equipped placing them at an advantage over the Native Americans. (Acosta 1590)
Though the narrative tries to show the hard times that Mary Rowlandson went through during her captivity, it also shows the plight of the Nipmuc Native Americans. It shows the struggles that they went through when the Europeans invaded their land. They were not able to stay in peace at one place for long.
They always had to watch their back to avoid being caught off guard by the Europeans. They could no longer live at peace in their own land. Therefore even though they are being made to look like aggressive uncivilized savages in this narrative they are just out to protect themselves. They are hitting back.
The narrative was a good source of information on the culture and ways of life of the Native American society. Though the narrative was biased against the Native Americans it provided a lot of information. They were organised communities who believed in communal cooperation.
The Indians were given a very hard time by the puritans who were extremists and were not interested in peaceful cohabitation with the Indians. This is seen in Mary Rowlandson’s description of their religion and culture. She despises their religion as satanic. The relation between the Wampanoag Indians and the settlers was therefore not good and this explains the wars and the captivity.
Acosta, Jose De. “A Spanish Priest Speculates on the Origin of the Indians.” 1590.
Vaca, Alvar Nunez Cabeza De. “Indiands of the Rio Grande.” 1528-1536.