The Sovereignty and Goodness of God is an autobiography. It is an example of captivity narrative. 


The work is narrated by the protagonist, Mary Rowlandson, at least one year after the 1675 attack on Lancaster.

Point of View

Rowlandson narrates The Sovereignty and Goodness of God 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.


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.


The Sovereignty and Goodness of God is told in the past tense.

Setting (Time & Place)

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. The story is set primarily in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, ranging from what is now western Massachusetts to Boston, with excursions northward into what is now Vermont and New Hampshire.

Major Conflict

Rowlandson must survive her captivity and return to civilization without being adopting the violent and primative behavior of her captors. She must also learn how dependent she is on the grace and providence of God.

Rising Action

The rising action of the story is the attack on Lancaster, travels through the wilderness, Rowlandson’s increasing awareness of her own capacity for primative behavior (for example, the moment when she eats a piece of half-raw horse meat).


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

Falling action of the work includes Rowlandson’s continued captivity, her lack of patience with the captive child who is unable to properly chew his meat, and her willingness to threaten her captors in return when they threaten her.


One example of foreshadowing in the work is Rowlandson’s mention of victory and deliverance at the end of the Fifth Remove foreshadows her ultimate redemption and the victory of the colonists in King Philip’s War. Another example is that the intoxication of Quannopin in the Twentieth Remove foreshadows the ultimate decline of the Native people and their defeat by the colonists.