It is indeed possible to argue that Mary Rowlandson is a reliable narrator in her Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson . It was not written for financial gain or for fame. These is some question among colonial scholars, however, as to how much input Increase...
It is indeed possible to argue that Mary Rowlandson is a reliable narrator in her Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson. It was not written for financial gain or for fame. These is some question among colonial scholars, however, as to how much input Increase Mather had on Rowlandson's published narrative. It is possible to separate the Puritan philosophizing in the text from the recording of events and circumstances that Rowlandson experienced. Puritans had no use for fiction, and it seems unlikely that Rowlandson's imagination extended to the scenes of butchery that she describes when the garrison was attacked:
But out we must go, the fire increasing, and coming along behind us, roaring, and the Indians gaping before us with their guns, spears, and hatchets to devour us. No sooner were we out of the house, but my brother-in-law (being before wounded, in defending the house, in or near the throat) fell down dead, whereat the Indians scornfully shouted, and hallowed, and were presently upon him, stripping off his clothes, the bullets flying thick, one went through my side, and the same (as would seem) through the bowels and hand of my dear child in my arms. One of my elder sisters' children, named William, had then his leg broken, which the Indians perceiving, they knocked him on [his] head.
Near the end of the narrative, Rowlandson reflects on her motivations for recording the ordeal of her captivity. She, being a devout Puritan, believed that God had willed that she experience both prosperity and loss as a demonstration of His omnipotence and the perfection of His justice. Besides leaving behind a record for her surviving children and descendents, her captivity narrative is an exemplar of what living one's faith meant to a Puritan.
I have seen the extreme vanity of this world: One hour I have been in health, and wealthy, wanting nothing. But the next hour in sickness and wounds, and death, having nothing but sorrow and affliction.
The length of the narrative, twenty "removes" as she traveled with her captors, the intricacy of her observations, and the detail of their movements enhance the veracity of Rowlandson's narrative. The elaborateness of her descriptions of the gatherings of the Native Americans and their culture and ways of life could only be learned by direct observation.