Reading Notes, Mary Rowlandson:



Questions to consider while reading


  • What is Rowlandson’s purpose in writing this narrative?
  • How does Rowlandson portray Native Americans?
  • Do all of them seem to fit under this portrayal, or are there exceptions?
  • How do the “heathen” treat Rowlandson’s religion?
  • What does this narrative and the poems of Bradstreet reveal about the fears, anxieties, and daily lives for Puritan women?



Key Quotes


“[H]e begged of them his life, promising them money (as they told me) but they would not hearken to him but knocked him in head, and stripped him naked, and split open his bowels” (136).


“Thus these murderous wretches went on, burning, and destroying before them” (136).


“Some in our house were fighting for their lives, others wallowing in their blood, the house on fire over our heads, and the bloody heathen ready to knock un on the head, if we stirred out” (136).


“The Lored hereby would make us the more acknowledge His hand, and to see that our help is always in him” (137).


“Thus were we butchered by those merciless heathen, standing amazed, with the blood running down to our heels” (137).


“I had often before this said that if the Indians should come, I should choose rather to be killed by them than taken alive, but when it came to the trial my mind changed” (138).


“Oh the roaring, and singing and dancing, and yelling of those black creatures in the night, which made the place a lively resemblance of hell” (138).


“It is not my tongue, or pen, can express the sorrows of my heart, and bitterness of my spirit that I had at this departure; but God was with me in a wonderful manner, carrying me along, and bearing up my spirit, that it did not quite fail” (138-139).


“I then remembered how careless I had been of God’s holy time; how many Sabbaths I had lost and misspent, and how evilly I had walked in God’s sight . . . that it was easy for me to see how righteous it was with God to cut off the thread of my life and cast me out of his presence forever. Yet the Lord still showed mercy to me, and upheld me” (139).


“Oh the hideous insulting and triumphing that there was over some Englishmen’s scalps that they had taken (as their manner is) and brought with them” (141).


“I cannot but take notice of the wonderful mercy of God to me in those afflictions, in sending me a Bible. One of the Indians … came to me, and asked me, if I would have a Bible, he had got one in his basket. I was glad of it, and asked him, whether he thought the Indians would let me read? He answered, yes” (141).


“This morning I asked my master whether he would sell me to my husband. He answered me ‘Nux,’ which did much rejoice my spirit” (142).


“I told them the skin was off my back, but I had no other comforting answer from them than this: that it would be no matter if my head were off too” (143).


“I trembled to hear him, yet I was fain to go to him, and he drank to me, showing no incivility” (145).


“God seemed to leave his People to themselves, and order all things for His own holy ends. It is the Lord’s doing, and it should be marvelous in our eyes” (146).


“[S]trangely did the Lord provide for them; that I did not see (all the time I was among them) one man, woman, or child die with hunger” (146-147).


“I can but stand in admiration to see the wonderful power of God in providing for such a vast number of our enemies in the wilderness” (147).


“They mourned (with their black faces) for their own losses, yet triumphed and rejoiced in their inhumane, and many times devilish cruelty to the English” (147).


“Now hath God fulfilled that precious Scripture which was such a comfort to me in my distressed condition” (149).


“I have seen the extreme vanity of this world: One hour I have been in health, and wealthy, wanting nothing. But the next hour in sickness and wounds, and death, having nothing but sorrow and affliction” (151).


“Before I knew what affliction meant, I was ready sometimes to wish for it. When I lived in prosperity … and yet seeing many … under many trials and afflictions … I should sometimes be jealous lest I should have my portion in this life” (151).


“If trouble from some smaller matters begin to arise in me, I have something at hand to check myself with, and say, why am I troubled?” (151-152).