Puritan and John Williams Essay examples

Submitted By cdonohue
Words: 1177
Pages: 5

Caitlin Donohue
Professor Bendler
March 7, 2015

In our early exploration of colonial life we can see distinct patterns in Puritan religion, lifestyle, and settlement that can be related to the events that occurred in the novel “The Unredeemed Captive: A Family Story From Early America” written by John Demos. The themes of spreading faith and one’s devotion to faith are threaded into the novel and can be traced to back to what was going on in Puritan life in early America. In addition to this, the strict and calculated life the colonists chose to live is reflected in the development in the town of Deerfield and the lifestyle of John Williams and his family. The story of “The Unredeemed Captive” simply brings to life key aspects of colonial America during a time of development in our country. In the beginning of the novel Demos explains that the original purpose of the Massachusetts Bay Colony was to be “charitable” and that Puritans wanted to save Native Americans from the “darkness of heathenism” and draw them into the “bright light of Protestant Christianity” (26). The Puritans felt very strongly about their faith, and when Elizabeth was succeeded by King James the Sixth, toleration of those from the Anglican Church became less and less which made the Puritans more willing to leave England to spread and practice their beliefs. Demos also mentions that there would be “setbacks” for the Puritans in their goal to create a new culture in the motherland. In class we discussed many setbacks that early colonists faced such as Jamestown, the first settlement in Virginia. Problems with Jamestown included: humid climate, swampy terrain, disease, and the Powhatan. In addition to this, sons of lesser gentry were sent over to the motherland and they did not have the skills to successfully develop a new colony. New England, where the town of Deerfield was developed, was a faith-based region and the goal was to establish religious communities. The Puritans lived by the Covenant, which was Puritan Calvinist theology based on the “covenant of grace.” They believed god had revealed himself to humanity through the teachings of scripture. They believed salvation was through faith and Jesus Christ and that a community of like-minded people with the same faith was crucial. While discussing the development of Deerfield Demos writes, “Fields will be planted, town government established, a minister hired: customary stages, all, in the evolution of New England towns” (30). The meetinghouse was a focal point of Puritan life and it was where they held all their religious gatherings where they could practice and spread their faith. This speaks to the growing importance of symbolism in the puritan colonies as buildings, institutions, and places of worship became very symbolic of their life. In England, the focal point of political life was the town, and if you were not part of the religion you did not have the right to participate in town meetings or politics. As previously mentioned, the importance of religion during colonial times is evident throughout “The Unredeemed Captive.” To begin, Minister John Williams’s daughter, Eunice, is help captive by the Native Americans and converted to Catholicism. When Williams is able to visit his daughter for the first time, she is in fear because the Native Americans continue to “mock the devil”, which is feared in Puritan religion (70). However, in time, the Native Americans convert Eunice to Catholicism. The goal of the Native Americans was to keep children captive so they forget their earlier life and adopt the Catholic religion. This coercive behavior can be related back to what we discussed in class and the aggressive intentions of the Spanish trying to convert the Pueblo people to Christianity in New Mexico. In addition to this, the French Jesuits that the Native Americans were allied with at the time of the attack on Deerfield had earlier converted them to Catholicism. Once Eunice was converted