How would history be different if Bradford had described his wife's death in Of Plymouth Plantation?Bradford omits describing his wife's death for some reason, while detailing in depth so many...

How would history be different if Bradford had described his wife's death in Of Plymouth Plantation?

Bradford omits describing his wife's death for some reason, while detailing in depth so many other events which occurred during the journey.

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While I appreciate that you're reading Bradford's journal and agree that he omitted any details of his wife's death, I don't accept the premise of your question.  It doesn't seem reasonable that the history of a nation would be changed by this relatively miniscule piece of information.

From the first pages of his Journal, Bradford assumes the role of a rather disinterested (impartial) narrator, describing the journey of those early settlers from England to Leyden to America. It's true he admires their fortitude and their forbearance, and at some point he joins the group and becomes more of a participant narrator.  But not everyone in the settlement is portrayed as a saint; he documents plenty of human frailties and flaws.  His journal is seen as an accurate portrayal of the settlement of Plymouth.  Would any of that have changed if he had included more information about his wife's death?  I think not.  There were plenty of other imperfections and sins documented in the journal; that would only have been one more.

I can't answer definitively why Bradford did not write with any specificity about his wife's passing, but I have a simple theory:  it was a painful part of his private life, one which he preferred not to document in his public journal.  

So I ask myself, what would have changed if William Bradford had written about this aspect of his private life?  Was he hiding something, by the omission, which would have shown him or his Puritan community in a negative light?

Would sharing this aspect of his personal story have made any of them look better?  The answer to both questions is, I don't think so.

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