Compare and Contrast Captivity Narratives Essay

1186 Words Jun 13th, 2013 5 Pages
Contrasting and Comparing Captivity Narratives The captivity narrative genre includes writings by or about people captured by an enemy, usually one who is considered by the hostage to be a foreign and uncivilized heathen, and was especially popular in America and England in the seventeenth through late nineteenth centuries. Documents from the time show that between 1675 and 1763, at least 1,641 New Englanders were held in captivity as hostages, though many believe that the numbers are drastically low because of poor record keeping (Vaughan, 53). Regardless of the exact number of hostages, the fact is that thousands of people were profoundly affected by being held captive by the Indians. Some of those people, including Mary Rowlandson, …show more content…
She writes that at one point, an Indian couple told her they would help her escape and even go with her. She declined saying that she would wait for “God’s time, that [she] might go home quietly, and without fear” (Rowlandson 94). At one point, during Cabeza de Vaca’s escape from one tribe of Indians, other Indians asked for him to heal their sick. These Indians, like those who allowed Rowlandson a Bible to read, did not prevent their captives from keeping their own religion (Cabeza de Vaca 19). Mary Jemison had a markedly different captivity experience. In the late 1750s, when Jemison was just fifteen years old, her family was captured by the Seneca Indians. Soon after they were captured, Jemison saw her family murdered and scalped. Like Rowlandson and Cabeza de Vaca, she was initially in fear for her life. She expected at any moment that she too would be scalped by her captors. At the same time, like Rowlandson, she was just as frightened by the idea of escape. She lamented that should she sneak away that she would be “alone and defenseless in the forest, surrounded by wild beasts that were ready to devour” her (Seaver). Jemison was given to two squaws as a replacement for a brother who was lost in war. After a ritual of mourning, the female Indians dressed Jemison in native clothing, renamed her “Deh-he-wä-mis” which meant “pretty girl” and accepted her as one of their own. She learned their way of life