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This chapter describes the Pilgrims' arrival at Cape Cod. They are struck by what they perceive as a desolate wildnerness, utterly hostile and without comforts. Bradford emphasizes the travails they endured in sailing to this new land, and in Chapter Nine he wants the reader to understand that things didn't get any better. They are isolated and utterly on their own:
If they looked behind them, there was the mighty ocean which they had passed, and was now as a maine bar and goulfe to separate them from the civill parts of the world.
This chapter also includes remarks about the people they encountered, who Bradford views as basically hostile:
...these savage barbarians, when they mette with them...were readier to fill their sides full with arrows than otherwise...
Indians were viewed, then, as a hostile force of nature, ready to destroy the Pilgrims at any moment. The point of this chapter, as with A History of Plymouth Plantation as a whole, was to emphasize the struggles, hardships, and privations suffered by the Pilgrims in an attempt to show that the Pilgrims had been chosen for success by divine Providence. Faced with these hardships, Bradford ends the chapter by asking rhetorically, "what could now sustain them but the spirite of God and his grace!"
Bradford's overall point is that it was God's will for the Separatists, passengers, and crew to make it safely to land, and that they must continue to trust in God to provide them with everything they need to survive.
Bradford emphasizes that there were no Europeans there to help them and nothing in the way of civilization. He recalls that the winter promised to be brutal, and that the environment was unknown to them and seemed full of threats, both from the "barbarians" and animals. The ship's captain was fiercely protective of what he and the crew needed to make the journey back to England in the spring, and that left the Separatists and passengers in a vulnerable position. They would have to fend for themselves and quickly find a suitable place for shelter.
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