In this collective biography, Crawford presents an account of four women struggling to obtain personal and collective freedom during a difficult time in the history of both England and the American colonies. Because this book was written specifically for a young adult audience, it presents a more personal accounting of historical events in order to create interest in its readers.
Crawford’s sympathy for these four individuals is quite evident throughout the book, as she presents them as women who have been wronged by their societies in one way or another. Crawford emphasizes their individual roles in history while providing adequate historical context for the events that she relates. Throughout the book, Crawford’s implied criticism of early American society and its limitations is also evident, and she often refers to the stringent laws governing religion to reinforce her points.
Crawford’s evaluation of the time period itself is less favorable. She is quite critical, often with reason, of the severe religious rules which governed the various new colonies. This criticism serves to dispel the myth that the Pilgrims, among others, were advocates of religious freedom. Rather, the young adult reader becomes very aware of the intolerance of the various sects toward those whose views differed from their own. On the other hand, she presents a balanced view of the relationship between some Native American tribes and the colonists. The reader learns that sometimes the relations were strained and that sometimes they were not, depending upon how the colonists treated the Native Americans...
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In her book, Crawford has addressed a period in history that most young adults often find tedious. Four Women in a Violent Time became a classic because Crawford has addressed the issues of the day in a different manner and through the eyes of women rather than of men. Young adult readers are introduced to four women of whom they might know nothing. Therefore, the effect that this book has had on biographical writing is attributable to Crawford’s decision to write about characters whose complete stories are not often told. In addition, she draws the stories of these women together in a unique way, showing the reader that their actions did not occur in isolation or without an impact on those around them.
Four Women in a Violent Time is an important book for students to read because it presents a view of Colonial America that often has been neglected in history classes. It can also serve as a starting point for young adult readers who are interested in the role of women during this time period.