Mary Rowlandson's Narrative Mary Rowlandson's Term Paper

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In addition to serving as a "religious confessional" that allows readers to understand the cultural gap between the Native Americans and the English, Rowlandson includes many details that can classify her work as a "visceral thriller," details that continue to expand on the theme of differences, or a gap, between the two cultures. She does this primarily through her descriptions of Native American cruelty -- most poignantly and passionately in her descriptions of the battle during her opening paragraphs. She repeatedly refers to the Native Americans' murdering the townspeople as "knock[ing] them over the head," a phrase which echoes the savagery and meaninglessness with which she believes the Native Americans are acting. More vividly characteristic of a "visceral thriller" is her description of a man who "begged of them his life." Instead, Rowlandson describes how the Natives "stripped him naked and split open his bowels" (Rowlandson). In addition to these grisly details of the Native Americans at war, the theme of woods and bleeding is prevalent throughout the book. Rowlandson often discusses her wounds as well as those of her child, and victims left bleeding are several times characterized as having "bleeding hearts" (Rowlandson).

Through these images of violence, gore, and death that make up her "visceral thriller," Rowlandson uses the literary
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technique of perceptive to enforce the theme of a cultural gap between the English and the Natives. First-time readers of this narrative are easily swayed by Rowlandson's biased perspective, and the images she described are truly dreadful and thrilling. Because the Native Americans and English were at war, however, a logical assumption is that the English are performing similar atrocities, only with guns and cannons instead of hatchets and knives. In fact, Rowlandson chooses to dwell on the weapons of the natives, writing that they have "spears" and "hatchets," in addition to guns, and insisting that "their glittering weapons" made her desire to stay alive. Thus, through Rowlandson's "visceral thriller" portion of her narrative, the author uses a physical symbol of the difference between the English and Native American weapons in order enforce the cultural gap that existed between the two nations.

Although Mary Rowlandson's narrative employs both Pierce's extremes of "religious confessional" and "visceral thriller," her work goes far beyond the genre of captivity narrative. Instead, by using both these themes, Rowlandson suggests the monumental cultural gap between Native Americans and the English.

Works Cited

Pierce, Harvey. "The Significance of the Captivity Narrative." American Literature. 19.1

1947): 1-20.

Rowlandson, Mary. A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary

Rowlandson. Baym, Nina. Norton Anthology of American Literature. Shorter Ed. Urbana-Champaign: University of Illinois, 2003.

Native Voices" 2008. American Passages: A Literary Survey. 20 June 2008. http://www.learner.org/amerpass/unit01/usingvideo.html.

Sources Used in Documents:

Works Cited

Pierce, Harvey. "The Significance of the Captivity Narrative." American Literature. 19.1

1947): 1-20.

Rowlandson, Mary. A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary

Rowlandson. Baym, Nina. Norton Anthology of American Literature. Shorter Ed. Urbana-Champaign: University of Illinois, 2003.

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