In what way do Mary Rowlandson's writings depict life as an American?
Are her writings a response to the world and those around her? Is it exemplary of an attempt to construct identity based on the reactions we expect to receive from other humans or from a land in which we live?
Mary Rowlandson was a Puritan pastor's wife captured by native American Indians during King Philip's War (1765) in Pennsylvania. She was held hostage in late winter until early spring and later published an account of her experiences.
Mary Rowlandson quite naturally discusses the hostilities existing between the indigenous Indian populations and the white settlers, but she also explains the jeopardy in which these native people lived. For example, during one displacement, she recounts that had it not been for the hazelnut trees growing wild in the forest, they all would have starved to death.
Her diary falls in the category of the genre 'captive narrative.' Rowlandson's deep religious convictions as a Puritan come through; ironically, it never would have occurred to her that perhaps the Indians were victims of the white man's ingerence, and even appropriation, of their land.
Below you will find information on the New England conflict and subsequent war ('King Philip' was actually the name attributed to the warring chieftan) , Rowlandson's journal on line, and a bibliography concerning this and other captive narratives. These journals were literally snatched up by the public, eager for first-hand accounts of such misadventures.