Camilla Townsend's book Pocahontas and the Powhatan Dilemma is a factual look at the life of Pocahontas. Townsend uses the life of Pocahontas as a lens through which to explore similarities, differences, and conflicts between indigenous peoples and English settlers in Virginia. She describes in depth the values, lifestyles, and motivations of both of these groups. She also discusses Pocahontas's personal quest for independence and the importance of land autonomy to indigenous peoples in Virginia. Townsend portrays the Algonquians as intelligent, resilient, and defiant in the face of European colonization.
Pocahontas is an important person to write about when exploring the differences and similarities between these two cultures, because she lived in both of them. Pocahontas was born to King Powhatan, under the name Amonute. As a child she was curious, intelligent, and athletically skilled. When she was only slightly older, she was married to John Rolfe, a white settler. Townsend discusses the marriage not only through the interpersonal lens of Rolfe's and Pocahontas's motives and desires, but through the larger political lens of the relationship between Algonquians and English settlers. Townsend explores King Powhatan's motivations regarding the marriage between Rolfe and Pocahontas and portrays the king as making a diplomatically wise choice in an attempt to forge an alliance between the Algonquians and the settlers. Pocahontas herself had a limited amount of say over her marriage, and it certainly was not...
(The entire section is 363 words.)