How did the the Pilgrims demonstrate heir values in their daily effort to survive in a harsh environment?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Pilgrims believed the Church of England and the Catholic Church had abandoned the fundamental doctrinal beliefs of the early Christian founders of the Bible. They thought the Church had moved from doctrinal truths to a compromised political religion which valued the wealthy over the less fortunate and held the poor in contempt. The Church and state had formed a close alliance, benefiting the upper-social class while ignoring the social welfare needs of the less fortunate. Charity is a foundational Biblical principle which the Pilgrims held as only second to salvation. On this issue, it is easy to see how the Pilgrims separated their sincere religious belief from the role government played in daily life.

The Pilgrims believed in the doctrine of predestination. Predestination is the belief that God has predetermined before a person is born who falls under the saving grace of God and who is damned by God. In the religious mind of the Pilgrim, this belief translated into the notion that the godly belonged to God's elect and were saved. In the face of overwhelming odds of survival in the new world, believing you were part of God's chosen elect would provide comfort and an element of courage—as you need not wonder what would happen in the event of your death. The Pilgrim would have believed they were under God's protection.

The Pilgrims looked to the Bible for inspiration and guidance in conducting their daily affairs. The New Testament verse found in 2 Thessalonians, chapter 3, cerse 10, (translated from the King James Bible) reads:

For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.

This verse was later quoted by John Smith at Jamestown but is indicative of how the Pilgrims viewed their work responsibilities once they debarked the Mayflower. It would take a strongly-committed work effort to tame the land on which they chose to begin their colony.

Religious beliefs guided their notions of charity. As stated earlier, the Pilgrims believed the Church had abandoned its social responsibilities. The Pilgrims believed in communal sharing and sacrifice. Communal sharing is the idea that if a person is lacking then the community assists and provides until that person can become self-sufficient and provide for themselves. Shared responsibilities would have been an asset in surviving the brutal conditions of the unsettled territory.

It is hard to argue the simplicity and priority Pilgrims placed on living a life free from the distractions of vice was not critical to their survival. Focusing on the work and the task at hand would be a great benefit to anyone wishing to survive the rigors of colonial exploration.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on

Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Already a member? Log in here.

Are you a teacher? Sign up now