The Double Life of Pocahontas Analysis

Jean Fritz

Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Jean Fritz begins The Double Life of Pocahontas by describing the happy life of eleven-year-old Pocahontas, who was the favorite daughter of her father, Chief Powhatan. Fritz writes not only about Pocahontas but also about the lack of understanding between the English settlers and the Native Americans. The settlers found the native way of life strange and uncivilized. Also clearly chronicled is the inability of Pocahontas’ people to understand the settlers’ goals: to find gold, to discover a shortcut to the other ocean, to turn the natives into Christians through kindness, and to provide lucrative goods for England.

The book is organized in a chronological fashion. Part 1 begins with the arrival of the English settlers on April 26, 1607. It explains the uneasiness of the Native Americans about the arrival of unknown people and the inability of the English to cope with their new environment. John Smith, one of the settlers, was captured by Chief Powhatan’s followers. As death preparations were being made, however, Pocahontas begged for and saved Smith’s life. She may have been merely performing the traditional role of sponsor for adoption into her father’s tribe, but, from that moment through the next ten years, their lives connected in interesting ways.

In part 2, Fritz describes how a returning ship from England brought much-needed food. Nevertheless, the joyous thirty-eight surviving settlers soon faced severe hard-ships...

(The entire section is 563 words.)