Religion plays an important role in two important texts: The Narratives Of Captivity, Restoration and the Interesting Narratives About Olaudah Equiiano. Mary Rowlandson as well as Olaudah Equiiano play a role in religious stories. Both stories have many similarities, but also some differences. I’ve read both. Mary Rowlandson was a Christian, and Olaudah Éguinoa had strong religious convictions. Equiano and Rowlandson both write captivity stories. Equiano describes being held captive in white men’s prisons while Rowlandson recounts being held captive captive by Native Americans. This comparison shows both the similarities in each narrative and the differences between Equiano’s experiences. Both stories depict the mental, emotional, and physical struggles they experienced while held captive.
Mary Rowlandson, the author of A narrative of captivity and restoration. In 1675, she wrote about her captivity in Native American hands. Mary Rowlandson was an older woman when she was kidnapped. She was taken hostage during King Philip’s war. Mary Rowlandson remembers waking up to the sound of guns and seeing smoke rising from heaven. She describes her family’s struggle to defend their lives and waiting for the Indians to take over. “Lord. What shall we be doing?” (Rowlandson 133) It is clear that Mary Rowlandson was a Christian from the very beginning. She survived her brutal treatment as a Native American captive. Rowlandson is forced, in the second paragraph of the narrative to go with the Indians into a deserted area. Mary Rowlandson’s family is being abused emotionally, mentally, and physically during this period. She writes about the strength of her spirit as she fled into the woods. “God was a great help to me. He carried me along and lifted my spirit so that it didn’t fail” (Rowlandson 135). Mary Rowlandson was faced with many discouragements. One example was the death of her youngest child, who died without enough food and care. Mary Rowlandson believes God gave her strength and guidance to get through this terrible situation. “The Lord renewed me strength, and carried my feet, so that He might show His power more clearly” (Rowlandson 135). Mary Rowlandson is kept alive by her faith in God. Mary Rowlandson made peace with her situation and decided to keep her faith in God. She believed in God and was able overcome her situation as a captive. She survived despite facing impossible circumstances thanks to her faith. It was published in London in 1789. The American edition was published two years later. He recounts how his younger sister and he were kidnapped as children. Then, he recounts his trip to West African shore. Equiano believes that fate brought him to this place. He and his sister were both sold to slave owners. He was kidnapped and discovered Christianity. Olaudah Equiiano’s tale reveals how religion played an integral part in Equiano’s life. Equiano used his arguments against slavery to write about the subject. Equiano was sold many times to various masters. He traveled through America, the West Indies, and Europe. Equiano was met by Miss Guerin by one his London masters. Guerin treated Equiano with love and kindness. She taught him that baptism was the only way to get to heaven. Equiano wrote that this made him feel uneasy. He had a vague idea of a future state. Olaudah Equiano had a moment of realization and began to believe in God. After that, he was baptized at St. Margaret’s. Equiano was smart and could read and write. Olaudah had many near-death experiences and hardships. Equiano wrote about his desire to see better days and wish he could be free. “My mind was thus hourly full of inventions and thoughts about being freed” (397). Equiano desired to trust God to deliver him. “In these thoughts, my mind was therefore replete with inventions and thoughts of being freed” (397). Equiano 397 Equiano grew in faith and respect for God after his many experiences as a slave. Equiano believed that God was responsible for his freedom and fate. Olaudah Equiano explains that Equiano believed God was in control of his fate and freedom. He trusted God, believing that God would ultimately make the final decision for him. He looked back at the way God helped him get out of slavery after he worked so hard.
I was able find similarities and differences in both the narratives after reading them. Mary Rowlandson wrote this story about her puritans in England being held captive. Rowlandson was clear in her message that the Native American people were not being treated cruelly by the whites. The Native American people were abducting and killing the whites without any justification. Olaudah Equiniano was, however writing against slavery. He described his experiences with different masters. He also wrote about how faith helped him through the journey to discover that he could own his freedom. Olaudah Equiano was more violet than Mary Rowlandson’s captors. One example is “one white man” that I saw being flogged with a large piece of rope near the frontmast. It was so brutal that he succumbed to the injuries. (Equiano 380). Olaudah Equiano refers to the term “brute” as a human. Equiano described them throwing someone’s body outboard as if it was a savage, aggressive animal. Equiano describes how Equiano felt even more fearful of these people after this kind of treatment. Equiano wrote that he expected the same treatment (Equiano 388). Olaudah, Mary and Mary both wrote about scripture and how God could reward or punish them. Mary Rowlandson and Olaudah Equiiano both were freed at the end. Mary’s ransom paid for, Olaudah got his freedom.
Captivity narrations offer readers insight into the experiences and thoughts of the narrators. Both stories provided insight into the mental, emotional, and physical torture Rowlandson, Equiano, and Rowlandson endured during their captivity. Olaudah Equaiano and Mary Rowlandson might not have survived without religion. Knowing God will answer prayers that you ask, I can confirm this. Rowlandson, Equiano were saved by the Lord. Many people in that time relied on God’s ideas and His will to help them move forward in their lives. I believe that we can trust him today, but we also need the help of family and friends.
Robert S. Levine. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. W.W. Norton & Co. released the book in 2017.