Gender and Genocide

In Mary Rowlandson’s “Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson” it is evident that the Native people definitely underwent a type of genocide or holocaust. Mary Rowlandson’s experiences with the Algonquian people complicates the history of intolerance towards Native Americans. It began with the colonization of these Native people because not only did the colonizers want to take the land, they wanted to purify everything that was already there. Genocide, or the deliberate killing of a large group of people is a lot deeper than murder. When genocide is committed the goal is to erase a groups complete existence and legacy. So in this case the killings of the Natives acts as the genocide. In the students Blog post they talk about how gruesome the colonists killed Native Americans, although murder is never right they did more than just kill these people they terrorized them out of simple hate. While doing the reading I found myself wanting to sympathize with Mary Rowlandson but at the end of the day I was reminded that she was still a colonist herself, from the beginning the way she describes the Native Americans is almost subhuman. She describes them as savage and “barbarous”. Also, we are well aware that Mary’s personal beliefs stem from racism, she makes us almost tolerate her. Her racism doesn’t seem genuine it seems forced and like something that was learned rather than programmed in her. The persona of her character makes it difficult to hate her but at the same time you realize that she indeed is also like the rest of the colonizers. 

Also throughout the reading Rowlandson seems to tolerate the Native Americans and in some instance even describes them almost as kind. The experience of her captivity definitely allows us as readers to see a relationship between Native Americans and a colonist. What is more interesting as well is the fact that Mary is a woman and she’s also a mother so when I read the reading that made me in a sense want to sympathize with her more. I think the fact that she was a mother also played a role because in the instance where they allowed her to see her child you could see that the Native Americans put their differences with her aside and put her motherhood first. So yes although there was intolerance circumstance combatted against it.

Eugenia Brumley

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Is This Really Tit for Tat?

Rowlandson’s narrative is a piece of literature that explores the intricacies of how racism is viewed, in a historical sense as well as a modern one as well. The author’s treatment of the natives confirms the ways people viewed the oppressed group while victimizing themselves. While the class was split fairly deep down the middle about whether or not to sympathize with the narrator, I stand by the fact that I do not fully belong on either side of the answer. While it is tragic that a mother lost her children, I do not think that she was in the right for her treatment of the “savages” in the first place. She consistently degrades them as human beings, despite the Puritans being the invading race in the first place. Despite the fact that the Algonquians treat her with at least some respect as a human (even as a hostage), she looks down on them as animals, barbarians, and compares them to creatures of Hell. Yes, she has been captured but her attitude and religious pride is what makes it very difficult to feel anything but contempt for Mary. Had Christians of that era been as Christ-like as they preach to be, the treatment of natives would never have been executed so poorly. Written from the point of view of a Puritan, Rowlandson’s narrative is easy to pick out as a racist and intolerable piece, but you can also see just how naive people were in those days. Her inability to see the indigenous people as people is extremely educational. The pride that this woman shows reflects the vile nature of people at that time and certainly demonstrates that even though there are people who wish to hide a hateful history, there are narratives like this that truly exhibit bigoted and idiotic thinking that is still, sadly, existent today in racial profiling.

-Asia Reyna

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

Human Nature’s Disastrous Nature

It is nearly common knowledge that the indigenous population suffered great intolerance and injustice during the colonization of the Americas. Yet there are multiple perspectives in the colonization which provide insights of the individuals rather than a universal whole. Mrs. Mary Rowlandson’s “Captivity and Restoration” is one of the many perspectives of the time. Her perspective is a very interesting one, coming from a Puritan set on keeping Puritan morals and ambitions. I believe this piece of literature is in direct contrast to Dryden’s “The Indian Emperor” in its subtext and perspective. While Dryden seems to promote imperialism and the seizing of secular profits, Rowlandson seems to warn against it.

We discussed in class that many of the early Puritans living in the American colonies made peace with natives through treaties and aimed to keep that peace. They believed in the original Puritan ideals of the city atop of the hill, serving God by keeping an eye to heaven rather than the secular ground. Yet when the monarchy sent their officials to the colonies, their eyes were indeed glued to the ground. The monarchy wanting to establish themselves as an empire, acted as imperials and began to seize land, breaking the treaties made with the natives. Later waves of Puritan immigration had a similar effect. These Puritans had forgotten their initial purpose of escaping religious persecution, and instead came to the colonies in search of wealth, a mindset known as the Great Declension. These two events strained relations with the natives heavily, eventually leading to the conflict we see in Rowlandson’s account.

Rowlandson describes her fate in captivity as the wrath of God at times, the fate of her fellow Christians who died in Lancaster, all the wrath of God. In her eyes this was due to the Great Declension. The Puritans had lost their way and disobeyed God, and much like the two first biblical figures who once disobeyed him, they are paying the price. This focus on secular profits go hand in hand with imperialism, by speaking of it as the Puritan’s doom, Rowlandson is warning against it.

I believe this subtext shows multiple things. Firstly, is the difference between the ideals of the first wave of Puritans as compared to the later waves, and how they were still lumped into a group with collective ideals. Even in modern day, Puritans are still lumped into one group that desired and perpetrated the Native genocide. This simply isn’t true and is no better than lumping all the natives of the time as “savages”. Secondly, I believe this shows that ignorance leads to intolerance from both sides. The natives might have been ignorant to the intentions of the different groups of the Puritan community, as well as the Monarchy’s involvement. Attacking first waves of Puritans who might have wanted to avoid conflict, lumping them into a universal evil. Likewise, the Puritans, ignorant to the native’s situation and disparity, marked them as collective savages.

Rowlandson forms very human relations with some of the members of the Algonquians. Both groups are briefly able to separate the individual from the whole and be witnessed as humans. But sharing the commonality of humans, they also share the same faults and continue to fall into the pit of generalizing a people as a universal evil. This ignorance would only serve to perpetuate the intolerance from both sides.

-Daniel Rodriguez

Timeless Injustice

The relationship that Mary Rowlandson was able to develop during her time with the Native Americans, only confirms the history of intolerance against this group of individuals. A women of prestige witnessed the massacre of her town and endured watching her baby die in her arms during her captivity. Nonetheless after a few weeks of capture she developed a lasting admiration for these very same people, whom only weeks ago killed many of her kin. By the end of her story her readers have moved on just as she has. Now we all know that time heals all, but does time heal voids created by death? Seems to be in the case of Rowlandson, new friendship is the real fill of heartache. Friendships she established with King Philip, his family, and community living in the wigwams were all the perfect foundations to move on from the horrors at the start of the story. Being able to create friendships, noting she was not raped, noted living amongst the starving tribe she was given food, confirms the inexcusable behavior from the British colonizers. These people were pushed to match the abrasive behavior from the white settlers only after they were subjected to horrors first. Whatever hill Winthrop envisions is nothing nearly as perfect America strives to be, the crest may have a good economy and healthy babies but the bottom is built-up rotting bodies. We cannot excuse Americas past history, just accept the decades of unnecessary intolerance dished out to anyone different of culture or religion. Clearly the genocide of the Native American people was especially unnecessary because in a short amount of time Rowlandson was able to accept and appreciate the kind nature of these people.

-AM Jackson