Mary Rowlandson

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Mary Rowlandson, a Puritan minister's wife, was captured during the war in an Indian raid on Lancaster, Massachusetts. She was held captive by a leading Indian family for eleven weeks, before being returned to her husband. In the book Rowlandson later wrote about her experiences, she describes traveling from one "remove" to another with her Indian masters, experiencing the difficulties of hard work and the cold outdoors. She continuously quotes Scripture- she found it to be a source of strength and guidance for her in her time of trouble.

One interesting contrast between the Puritan and Indian cultures can be seen in Mrs. Rowlandson's view of her male master Quanopin's wife, named Wetamo. Wetamo was a "squaw sachem"- a woman who led the Wampanoag village of Pocasset. Wetamo had allied herself with King Philip (Metacom) early in the war, and despite the tradition of wifely obedience to one's husband was, on her own initiative, one of the key leaders during the conflict.

Mary Rowlandson, however, never recognized Wetamo's independent authority, which caused conflict between the two throughout her captivity. Wetamo took her anger at Indian war losses out on her slaves, of whom Mary was one. She would do such things as throw away Mary's Bible (her one great comfort), arbitrarily deny her food, and force her to do difficult work- or, at least, work not expected of a New England Puritan wife. Rowlandson called Wetamo "a severe and proud Dame"1, viewing her authoritative stance as vain and insolent.2 As part of a more patriarchal society, Mrs. Rowlandson found it difficult to understand Wetamo's behavior as other than just a woman being excessively assertive. Wetamo, however, was acting out a role which was acceptable in her own culture. It is also of interest to note that, as a...