Amer. Lit. 10104
Oh God! What Does It Mean? (Re-write)
In the story, “A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson,” which from this point on will be referred to as “The Narrative,” the author describes the eleven weeks that she endured as a captive of the American Indians. Mary Rowlandson, the author, gives great detail of the horrific events that she witnessed while in captivity. Throughout the entire story, as Rowlandson speaks of the different trials she faced, most of them are given alongside a biblical story or scripture. No matter what is going on, God is involved in every aspect of her ordeal and she makes it explicitly clear that He is in control of everything. The fact that Rowlandson constantly refers back to biblical references suggests that one possible meaning of this story is about the power and love that God has for those good and bad.
Some of the basic background information that Rowlandson provides could easily imply that anything connected to her might have some kind of biblical reference. She and her daughter are both named Mary, while her husband and son are both named Joseph. Any person familiar with the story of Jesus knows that those were the names of his parents on earth. It seems strange, even back in the 1600s, that a woman named Mary would meet a man named Joseph and become his wife. Besides their biblical names, Mary’s husband, Joseph, is in fact a practicing minister. Being a preacher’s wife, one could assume that her life greatly revolves around their faith in God. According to Dawn Henwood, a scholar at North Carolina University Wilmington, “she would have sung psalms in family devotions and incorporate them in her private meditations” (169). Rowlandson would be assumed to have an active role in the community when it came to spreading the word of God if only because of her husband’s position. By telling of her experience, a person could be satisfied and move closer to God because of everything that she went through and survived. It could also have the complete opposite effect and challenge one’s expectations by making them question why God would allow this to happen in the first place.
Another detail about “The Narrative” is one that stands out more than any other is the original title that Rowlandson herself gave the story. “The sovereignty and goodness of GOD, together with the faithfulness of his promises displayed; being a narrative of the captivity and restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson, commended by her, to all that desires to know the Lord’s doings to, and dealings with her. Especially to her dear children and relations.” If broken down, the original title almost serves as a watered down summary of the entire story. This previous name completely points to the fact that Rowlandson is a firm believer that God is constantly showing His love from the time that she is captured by the Indians to the time where she is safely returned home and reflecting on how much she has changed. Rowlandson began the ordeal as a rich and spoiled woman who would get upset over petty things. Afterwards, she is grateful to God for the experience and sees things differently.
In addition, Rowlandson makes several mentions of different bible stories and scriptures throughout the entire piece. Right before being taken by the Indians, even while family members are being killed, she is quoting scripture from the book of Job. Rowlandson recites, “And I only am escaped alone to tell thee” (Job1.15). In other words, instead of being killed like the others, she was captured and taken in order to come out on the other side and tell everyone of how God loved her and showed her mercy. This is important because she is saying this particular scripture at a time where everyone around her is being ruthlessly killed, children included. Rowlandson seems to see the situation at hand as an opportunity to let people know how things began and also