full title The Sovereignty and Goodness of God, also known as A Narrative of the Captivity and Removes of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson, also known as The True History of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson
author Mary Rowlandson
type of work Autobiography
genre Captivity narrative
time and place written Sometime between 1676 and 1682, in the Massachusetts Bay Colony
date of first publication 1682
publisher Samuel Green (Cambridge, MA) and subsequent others, including Houghton Mifflin
narrator Narrated by Mary Rowlandson, at least one year after the 1675 attack on Lancaster
point of view Rowlandson narrates in the first person, as she is telling the story as a memoir, focused on events she has witnessed and experiences that have happened to her. Rowlandson’s narrative is partly objective, but this does not mean it is unbiased. Rather, it means she describes people and events as they would appear to an outside observer. Her descriptions of her own thoughts, feelings, and motivations, however, make the narrative partly subjective as well. An outside observer could not have known the emotions that Rowlandson felt during her captivity and that she relates in her narrative.
tone Rowlandson’s tone is colored by hindsight. She tells the story of her captivity having already been freed, and she knows how the story ends. Though she is at times filled with despair, her overall tone remains hopeful. Her tone can also be described as didactic: she presents her story as a lesson to others.
setting (time) Rowlandson’s captivity lasts from February 1675 until May 1676. The final pages of her narrative tell briefly of the year or so following her release.
setting (place) Primarily Massachusetts Bay Colony, ranging from what is now western Massachusetts to Boston, with excursions northward into what is now Vermont and New Hampshire
protagonist Mary Rowlandson
major conflict Rowlandson must survive her captivity and return to civilization without being reduced to the savagery of the Indians. She must also learn how dependent she is on the grace and providence of God.
rising action Attack on Lancaster; travels through the wilderness; Rowlandson’s increasing awareness of her own capacity for savagery (for example, the moment when she eats a piece of half-raw horse meat)
climax The Ninth Remove, in which Rowlandson realizes her captivity is by no means near an end and in which she realizes her dependence on both the will of God and the kindness of strangers. In this section, she first eats the meat of a bear and finds it fortifying rather than repulsive.
falling action Continued captivity; Rowlandson’s lack of patience with the captive child who is unable to properly chew his meat; Rowlandson’s willingness to threaten the Indians in return when they threaten her
themes The blurred line between civilization and savagery; life is uncertain; the centrality of God’s will; the fear of the New World
motifs The threatening landscape; Christian imagery and the Bible
symbols The attack on Lancaster; Robert Pepper’s oak leaves; the Indians’ clothing