The Influence of Gender on Mary Rowlandson's Experience as an Indian Captive

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Mary Rowlandson’s The Sovereignty and Goodness of God (1622­­) is a book that explores her experiences as an Indian captive. The book explores the 1675 Lancaster raid that resulted in the deaths of men, women, and children. Although many people got killed, Rowlandson and her daughters survived the ordeal. Gender played a crucial role in Rowlandson’s experience as a captor because it influenced fear treatment by her captors.

Role of Gender

Rowlandson’s character and experience after the attack were profoundly influenced by her gender. For being a woman, she was treated better than the other people. Despite the Indian’s savageness, she managed to thrive. Rowlandson was not mistreated in the same manner as the other captives. For example, Indians assured her of safety if she accompanied them without trouble. This was a privilege that the other prisoners did not get (Rowlandson 15). Because of gender, Rowlandson is neither beaten nor tortured by the Indian captors. Thus, gender is a critical element that facilitates her well-being in the hands of enemies. 

Relationship with Captors

Rowlandson showcased favorable ties with her captors. The Indians were not rough on her because she was a woman. For example, after knitting a shirt for one squaw, she was given groundnuts to eat. On one occasion, she asked the Indians whether they agree to sell her to her husband, a request they agreed. When Rowlandson’s daughter Sarah died, Indians oversaw the burial in her absence. After being moved for 20 times, Rowlandson was finally handed over to her husband (Rowlandson 37). Also, Rowlandson affirmed that she was not assaulted sexually by the Indians.

Life Before Capture

Before being captured, Rowlandson’s life was centered on respect for God. However, she was not actively involved in religious issues. As a result, she viewed her captivity as a punishment from God. This understanding pushed her to start praying for God to grant her safety. In this case, being religious was presented as an avenue to protection. She also refused to knit on a Sabbath because it was a day for worshiping God. Rowlandson’s knowledge of God enabled her to judge the religious Indian’s practices. She termed them as savages even though they were Christians (Rowlandson 65). This conclusion was made because of the Indians’ strong attachment to traditions and disrespect for life.

If Rowlandson was a Man

The situation could have been entirely different if Rowlandson was a man. The reason for this argument is that all males were subjected to death by the Indians. During the attack, her brother in law was shot and killed. Her neighbor, who was a man was also shot while pleading for mercy from the Indians. Rowlandson’s nephew, who was a young boy, broke his leg during the attack. Instead of offering him treatment, the Indians ended up killing him (Rowlandson 75). Therefore, had she been a man, she could have lost her life during the attack.

How it Would have been the Same

At the beginning of the violent attack, Rowlandson was warned against defying the Indian’s authority. If she attempted to escape, she could have been killed, regardless of her gender. Opting to cooperate increased her chances of leaving captivity alive, unlike the other captives who chose to defy orders (Rowlandson 80). As portrayed by Rowlandson, her faith in God facilitated her release. If she was not prayerful, she could have faced death.


Rowlandson’s The Sovereignty and Goodness of God (1682) portrays how Indians captured Rowlandson. Gender played a critical role in preventing her from being punished and killed by the attackers. Her experience was better than that of en because many of them were killed. The book presents Rowlandson as a prayerful woman who used prayer to overcome her enemies. 

Work Cited

Rowlandson, Mary. The Sovereignty and Goodness of God. Stilwell: Neeland Media LLC, 1682. Print.

November 24, 2023




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Literature Review

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