Breaking Unfounded Intolerance

It is difficult to read so many stories and narratives surrounding the native and understand how high the ignorance was. In the beginning of Mary Rowlandson’s narrative, the scene she depicts is quite gruesome, but as modern readers it can be understood that the native’s violence was an effect of intolerance. However, in her narrative Rowlandson demonstrates that the ingrained intolerance can be forgotten when interacting with the natives. Cross-cultural exchange has both confirmed and complicated the history of intolerance, and all while depicting the effects of native genocide.

Within her narrative there are passages where Rowlandson demonstrates her ability to show tolerance. This struck me over and over, and I believe this demonstrates how damaging ignorance can be. Most people with open minds can come to comprehend misunderstood groups of people. Of course, taking the time period into consideration, it can be said that going against the grain was much more difficult. This however does not justify the atrocities committed because the natives were unlike them. Rowlandson in her narrative seems to slowly come to the same conclusion; her intolerance was unfounded. She wrote,

Before I knew what affliction meant, I was ready sometimes to wish for it. When I              lived in prosperity, having the comforts of the world about me, my relations by me,            my heart cheerful, and taking little care for anything, and yet seeing many, whom I            preferred before myself, under many trials and afflictions, in sickness, weakness,              poverty, losses, crosses, and cares of the world, I should be sometimes jealous least I        should have my portion in this life, and that Scripture would come to my mind,                   “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every Son whom he                        receiveth” (Hebrews 12.6). But now I see the Lord had His time to scourge and                      chasten me. (Rowlandson, Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary                Rowlandson)

Her narrative undoubtedly confirms intolerance, and complicates it in the sense that her world view shifts in the span of the weeks spent with them. Intolerance is judgement of the unknown or the different and that is clearly demonstrated here. It becomes more than just intolerance when the group subjected to it feel so frustrated that they become something not ingrained into them. They in their frustration and anger retaliated and it is sad because in doing so, they confirm the blanket statements made about them. In the quote above she seems to say that God punished her for her want of affliction, but I believe that she believed more so that he chastened her for her intolerance of a group she did not know. He put her in that situation to rectify her way of thinking and to not blindly believe in the generally popular portrayal of natives. While intolerance was present in her narrative, she also subtlety wrote about how in her captivity she tore down all  the preconceived notions of who the natives were.

-Sabrina Vazquez

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