58 The Other Side of It

Rowan Finnegan Cummings

A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson depicts the colonial encounter in a completely opposite way of the first three texts that we read. While I do not deny that some aspects of the narrative are disturbing and deeply unsettling, I definitely did not find it as hard to read as our first three texts. Up until reading this piece, all of the texts we had read depicted the colonial encounter as an attack on the Native Americans by the settlers. These types of texts were the only kind I had ever read when it came to the colonial encounter since, as we know all too well, the settlers were not innocent and took this country by force from the Native Americans. And, while I knew that the Native Americans had retaliated in some situations by either slaughtering masses of settlers or taking prisoners from raids, I had never read a text from the point of view of one of those settlers, nor had I really considered what that experience might have been like (I am definitely a tad biased against the settlers in any discussion about these times, but I digress).

Even the first sentence of this text sets a mood of pain and suffering. “Now away we must go with those barbarous creatures,with our bodies wounded and bleeding, and our hearts no less than our bodies” (Rowlandson 1st). Rowlandson’s narrative focuses on both the bodily harm that she suffered, as well as the spiritual/emotional harm she suffered. Throughout the entire experience, Rowlandson never fails to speak on her spiritual nature, and how her faith practically kept her alive. I can’t help but wonder, had the Native Americans been able to record their experiences on paper (and in English), would they have relied so heavily on their faith to keep them alive? Or was this merely a trait common with white female settlers who had nothing else left to rely upon?


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The Open Anthology of Earlier American Literature: A PSU-Based Project Copyright © 2016 by Rowan Finnegan Cummings is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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