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Assignment 1: Mary Rowlandson
1. Analyze how Rowlandson’s religious beliefs influenced her captivity experience. Some questions to consider are: As a Puritan, how did Rowlandson make sense of her captivity? What larger meaning did she see in her captivity for herself and New England? Did her beliefs predispose her to view her captors in a specific way? A word to the wise: in your answer, do not discuss “faith” or “belief” in the abstract. Be precise. What did Rowlandson believe about God, the universe, and her experience, and why were these beliefs significant?
2. Analyze the role of gender in Mary Rowlandson’s captivity experience. Some questions to consider are: How did the fact that Rowlandson was a woman influence her relationship with her captors? How did Rowlandson’s life before being taken captive affect her experience? How would her experience have been different had she been a man? How would it have been the same?
3. Analyze Rowlandson’s captivity experience as an example of cultural contact in the New World. Did a cultural exchange take place (in which both groups learned something about themselves and their way of life)? Was a meaningful cultural exchange possible under the circumstances, or did war and captivity make this impossible? Was Rowlandson more ethnocentric than her captors?
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