Rowlandson’s narrative tells it all.

 

I believe that the story confirms, contradicts, and complicates the history of intolerance and genocide.

Mary Rowlandson’s narrative gives a lens and perspective that complicates the morals attached to colonization -it creates a moral dilemma, if you will.  The imagery she presents in her writing, with the murder of one of her children, and the kidnapping of others, appeals to the emotions of the readers; whether the reader wants to or not, they will somehow sympathize with Rowlandson’s vexing experience.

At the same time, her description confirms the retaliation the natives released in their state of vigilant anger. While one may be in the position of sympathy, when reading her written work, it is the implicit understanding of that historical background, which lead up to that moment of retaliation, that one has to think about.  In Rowlandson’s experience, in comparison to the bigger picture of the American Holocaust -the systematic genocide of slavery, and violence, genocide- we can see that the numbers in the death toll do not compare.

In terms of contradiction, the story becomes so because of all of the above.  There is an internal conflict that goes on upon reading it.  We sympathize, we become angry, we are in the moment, while at the same time going back into the cruel history that led up to the crime.  We also have to be careful not to use our 21st century way of thinking when close reading this piece, but one can’t help but question any document written so long ago that one is not able to get answers to all the questions we have.  Why did she write this? Where was she when she wrote this? What effect did her gender role play on how she wrote it? What was she possibly forced to write in order to continue to the stereotype the natives were cast in? While we may not have the answers, one can conclude that she really believe that God was on her side, thus according to her, everything she saw and felt was correct.  More contradiction is when she refers to them as savages, even after the fact when they actually treated her well.

The lack of evidence, other than her words, creates a big gap.  And all we can do as a reader is look at it and attempt to put ourselves in that time period, and take from it our own individual understanding.

-Maricela Martinez

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