The Strength of Mary Rowlandson


Lit 231


1 October 2004


The Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson, is a personal account, written by Mary Rowlandson in 1682, of what her life in captivity was like. Native Americans, in February of 1676, in Massachusetts captured her and held her captive for almost three months while they traveled to safety. Her story of survival is documented and her spirituality keeps her alive. The reoccurring idea of the word remove relates to her bond with God, early and late in her captivity.


Throughout the narrative the word “remove” is used frequently to describe many actions the Rowlandson must induce. Every time Rowlandson and the Indians move to a new destination from their original place, she titles it a “remove”. “…I shall particularly speak of the severall Removes we had up and down the Wilderness” (127 Rowlandson). There are twenty removes in her narrative, which literally means that her and the Indians traveled to twenty different places. The irony of the word "remove" is that she is actually moving closer to home and freedom instead of being removed from it. She has also actually been "removed" from what she use to be, fitting into another world with a different culture. Rowlandson felt that her capture was meant to be and she was fortunate enough to survive. “But now I see the Lord had his time to scourge and chasten me” (149). She has to remove her self from the ideas and values she use to believe in, sometimes. She had to learn to accept the Native American’s way or suffer. She also has to get over the things that were a great value to her, such as her dead daughter and other deceased relatives. ”I went to take up my dead child in my arms to carry it with me, but the bid me to let it be alone: there was no resisting, but goe I must and leave it” (130). But, Rowlandson removed herself from such desperate feelings through the words of god.


Another meaning of the word "remove" can be though the move of Rowlandson’s spiritual life towards God. Her ability to cite scripture was benefited by the bible the Natives gave her. She is shot in the side during the first attack, the same bullet eventually killed her daughter Sarah, and she has no medication to help the pain and infection. Another man, who was captured by another tribe, tells her that the oaken leaves will help her injury like they helped his. “My wounds stink and are corrupt, I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly, I am mourning all day long” Psal.38, 6.” (129). All day, she relates the scripture to something occurring in her captivity. While she is captured she is uncertain of the destiny of her additional children and remaining family members. Every night she prays to god asking the fate of her dear family:


…Quickly the Lord answered, in some measure, my poor prayers: for as I was going up and down mourning and lamenting my condition, my Son came to me, and asked how I did; …with tears in his eyes, he asked if his Sister Sarah was dead; and told me he had seen his Sister Mary; and prayed me, that I would not be troubled in reference to himself (130-131).


Mary Rowlandson never lost hope and continued to try to return to her family.


Additionally, in each remove Rowlandson faith perseveres due to her powerful Christian ways. She felt that God provides her with more than others, especially the Indians. “The Indians were as thick as the trees: it seemed as if there had been a thousand hatchets going at once:…I myself in the midst, and no Christian soul near me, and how hath the Lord preserved me in safety” (132). Rowlandson never stopped believing that god would reunite her with her remaining family members. Her refusal to give up allowed her to save her own life. Mary Rowlandson learns something new in each remove by gathering proof that supports god’s words. Therefore, each remove could mean her own self moving one step closer to god, and being removed from her original state of innocence and not truly understanding the scripture. “For