Mary (White) Rowlandson (c. 1637 – January 1711) was a colonial American woman who was captured by Native Americans during King Philip's War. Years after her release, she wrote a book about her experience, The Sovereignty and Goodness of God: Being a Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs Mary Rowlandson
Mary and her three children and other settlers were captured by Native Americans and held for ransom. Because of Mary’s position in New England society, her capture attracted a considerable amount of attention and led to special efforts to release her.
“Rowlandson generally recounts the events of her captivity in a vigorous and homely style, combining close observation with simple, direct expression. However, when she pauses to consider the significance of a particular detail, her style becomes more elevated as she employs biblical quotations and metaphors to convey her meaning.”
Although Rowlandson writes of some positive attributes towards the Native Americans, she more typically displays the aversion that most Puritans felt toward the Indians. The Puritans, for the most part, felt that the Indians, as inhabitants of the "howling wilderness," were at best savages worth converting to Christianity and at worst virtual representatives of Satan.
Scholars have taken pause to make note of Rowlandson’s shift in voice in her narrative. Rowlandson is attempting to use her experience as a lesson for those who walk a troubled path away from salvation, while also using the act of writing about her experience to mark her own place as one of the Elect declared in a long line of Puritan conversion narratives.
Mary was ransomed for the sum of 20 pounds. Her two children Joseph and Mary were released weeks later. During the ordeal Mary was shot in the side and her six year old daughter, Sarah whom she was carrying, was also hit by that same bullet and died soon after.
Mary Rowlandson, a minister’s wife, is a historic figure who represents the early Colonial Age. While many of the early settlers were not Puritans, it is the Puritan spirit that put its permanent mark on what was to become America.
Rowlandson was taken captive by the Narraganset. They attacked New England towns during “King Philip’s War.”
During her imprisonment, Rowlandson and her two surviving children were forced to live and work as members of the tribe. They did such tasks as clean and cook.
Rowlandson's captivity narrative was the first of its kind. It was published in 1682.
Rowlandson never gives the Native Americans credit for their kindness. She attributes their charitable contributions, such as providing her a Bible to read, as mercy from God.