Captivity Narratives

1133 Words5 Pages
Laleshka Santiago-Rivera
Professor R. Stephens
English 2110-902
20 February 2018
Captivity narratives originated around the 16th and 17th century as America progressed and writers adjusted to the change. Two of the most well-known captivity narratives are A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson by Mary Rowlandson and The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavas Vassa, the African Written by Himself by Olaudah Equiano. Both narratives influenced their reader's actions by sharing the commotion of being captured and enslaved, and why they didn’t give up, therefore changing the path of history. Rowlandson’s narrates the occurrences of a 39-year-old white woman captured by Indians in 1675 and
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Both stories begin with shocking horrors, although much of Equiano’s narrative was based on these horrific scenes. Equiano’s survival of his involuntary journey to America, being enslaved as a child, and witnessing torture in Virginia, should be of aid towards the disapproval of the brutality of slavery. After buying his own freedom, Equiano became a front-runner in the abolitionist movement representing those who stood against slavery. Now in the 21st century we still fight for the freedom and self-respect we find in Equiano’s narrative. Rowlandson’s and Equiano’s narratives each represent a different characteristic of what it means to be part of the American nation. Rowlandson teaches us that fighting will always be a part of the American identity. She was frightened of the external group; this fear persists in America and it has been affecting the American civilization for some time. An outcome of this fear is Equiano’s story. Just like Rowlandson’s fear of “the outsiders” still prevail in the American society to a different extent, so does suppression of a group of people, which is the result of this conflict and fear of “the outsiders”. The fact that these narratives reflect the evolution of literature and that we can compare how far the American civilization has come and how it got to where it is, makes these stories extremely…show more content…
We know from texts that Native Americans were often depicted as savages and cruel. Mary Rowlandson’s text depicts Native Americans and their belief system as an abomination and classifies their physical appearance and actions mediocre. Rowlandson states, “when they came near, there was a vast difference between the lovely Faces of Christians, and the foul looks of those Heathens” (Rowlandson 288), she is comparing Native Americans and their culture to Christian standards. As I understand this is not a very religious way of thinking. In the journal Captive on the Literacy Frontier: Mary Rowlandson, James Smith, and Charles Johnston, Andrew Newman argues that literary differences, how the oral culture of the Native Americans differed from Rowlandson’s culture and as a result, it gives a sense of superiority. Most of her actions in the narrative are supported by bible references, beginning in the description of her capture, “several houses were burning, and the smoke ascending to heaven” (Rowlandson 269). It is evident that religion is of much importance in her society, all their decisions would be solely based on biblically correct behavior, would compare her situation to Biblical characters, and her point of view was that her captivity was a lesson or reward from God. We must keep in consideration that her book was edited by two Puritan ministers, Cotton Mather, and her husband at the
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