The Double Life of Pocahontas Critical Essays

Jean Fritz


(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Fritz has depicted the life of Pocahontas as honestly and accurately as possible. Because Pocahontas left no personal records, Fritz wrote her story using accounts of the Jamestown settlers and those of John Smith. She takes great care to inform the reader when she is making assumptions by using such clue words as “maybe,” “might,” and “perhaps.” The book provides an unusual amount of background information about the Jamestown colony, which increases the reader’s understanding of the historical period.

In explaining her standards for selecting individuals to write about, Fritz wrote that “I don’t have to like the people I write about, but I do need to understand them. And however we end up—my subject and I—I expect to share with my readers a compassion that springs from looking at the world through someone else’s eyes.” Fritz accomplishes this goal with Pocahontas, as the reader can sense the difficulties that Pocahontas faced in living with and caring for people in two different cultures.

Pocahontas is described as a favorite daughter of Chief Powhatan who lived and grew up in a culture in which her needs were met. She was loved, esteemed, and allowed to participate in the life of her village. On the other hand, she was genuinely curious about the life of the English settlers. The bravery of Smith intrigued her, and she became fascinated with him. When she was captured by the English, Christianized, renamed, and...

(The entire section is 457 words.)