Rowlandson'S Captivity Narrative And The Significance Of Food

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Mary Rowlandson’s Hunger for Spiritual Transformation Mary Rowlandson’s account of her captivity by the Wampanoag Indians in A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration is filled with suffering. Her village is destroyed, her family is separated, her six-year-old child dies in her arms and each day is a struggle to survive. Of these afflictions, hunger is the most discussed. Rowlandson writes in detail about her reflections on hunger, her searching and begging for food and the actual things she consumes. Hunger, in this story, serves to connect her physical suffering to the spiritual distress she undergoes. By analyzing Rowlandson’s descriptions of hunger and food, coinciding with her selection of Bible verses throughout her captivity, we are able to see her spiritual transformation. This transformation allows Rowlandson to reevaluate her life and the providence of God under a mature Puritan mindset. At the beginning of her captivity, Rowlandson is not fed at all. She says, “what a poor feeble condition we were in, there being not the least crumb of refreshing that came within either of our mouths from Wednesday night to Saturday night, except only a little cold water” (239). With the death of her child, Rowlandson’s faith in God starts to waiver. The idea of suicide as a way out even crosses her mind. The first form of nourishment that she mentions does not come in the form of food, but rather in the gift of a Bible. This is given to her by an Indian returning from a raid on a town. Rowlandson starts reading the Bible and finds a new strength to go on and endure. She reads from Deuteronomy a verse telling how “mercy would be promised again, if we return to Him by repentance” (242). The comfort provided by this gift was more essential to her survival at this time than food. At this point, her body can go on longer without physical sustenance,
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