There are times when assimilation is not a choice but rather something is forced. In circumstances such as being taken hostage, the ability to survive must come at the price of assimilating one's own customs into another lifestyle. In February of 1675 the Native Americans who were at war with the Puritans obtained hostage Mary Rowlandson of the Plymouth colony. During this time she must perform a role that is uncommon to a colonial woman's way of life so that she may live among them. With the need to survive, how can a person accommodate a second culture? The actions of Mary Rowlandson demonstrate how a person can gain, retain, and end up examining their own beliefs for logical validity.
Due to a limited food supply in the tribe, it can't be generosity given to Rowlandson; doing so would cause the entire tribe to become hungry. Rowlandson hand makes clothes for Native Americans in exchange for essentials. She trades with her caretakers and even the well-known King of the tribe. On several occasions she argues with the Natives, attempting not to lose what is her property. Trading and arguing with others was not a job performed by women in her colony; however, in her situation, a change of role is needed in order for her to live with her captors. In the seventeenth century, her change of role might have been seen as a sign of weakness, but today, it's much easier to see her change of role as being a sign of strength; After all, it takes a strong willed person to carry out a change in their life.
An altering of one's religion alone could be a difficult task for some, but for Puritans in everyday situations...
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...lture expects her to be.
In summary, what Mary Rowlandson understands about the Native Americans changes greatly during her confinement. This change in her day-to-day life enables her to live among a Native American tribe while still being a faithful Puritan. The change in her viewpoint gives her not only an understanding of the Native culture, but also her own as well. Although it was never written that her role in the Plymouth colony changed after her return, one could speculate that she may have at least questioned her own beliefs and questioned what God may truly be looking for in a Puritan.
Rowlandson, Mary. "A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson." Negotiating Difference: Cultural Case Studies for Composition. Ed. Patricia Bizzell and Bruce Herzberg. Boston: Bedford Books of St. Martin's Press, 1996. 67-83.
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