the unredeemed captive Essay

The Unredeemed Captive Term paper

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The Unredeemed Captive The Unredeemed Captive is a fascinating chronicle of life in Puritan New England. It is journey of the abduction and adoption of American settlers by Iroquois people. It begins in the year of 1704. The Mohawk Indians are allied with the French settlers in Canada and attack a small village in Massachusetts, called Deerfield. Reverend John Williams, a minister from Deerfield was a special target for captivity because Boston authorities held Jean-Baptiste Gayen whom the Canadians wanted returned. The night of the raid, two of William’s children were murdered. Reverend William along with his wife and five children were taken from their home and forced to march to Canada with the rest of the captives. Unfortunately the family was separated and this could possibly be the last time they will see each other ever again. They were now expected to become apart of new families up North. The first thing Indians did was assign a captive to a specific family. A captive was considered a member of the family almost immediately after their captivity. After a few years Reverend Williams returned home and he began to focus on reassembling his household. He remarried a widow from Connecticut, Abigail Bissell. The towns people built a new house out their appreciation for his bravery while he was kept hostage. All of his children that remained alive were redeemed except for his daughter Eunice. Eunice now lived in Canada and was adopted by an Indian tribe. Eunice was captured at the age of seven and now that she had matured she had forgotten all of her English and converted to Catholicism. Her captors seemed unwilling to release her and yet she did not seem willing to leave her new family and return to her old. A lot had changed for Eunice besides her new religion and family. Eunice married an Indian boy at the age of sixteen and she was now known as A’ongote. A Mohawk name which means “She (was) taked and placed (as a member of their Tribe).” Her family pleaded with her to return home. However, after numerous attempts and visits to Canada she still remained silent. Her brother Steven kept a consistent journal throughout his life, for we see many pleas and prayers for her safety as well as her return home. So we the reader ask ourselves, Why does Eunice refuse to return? Her family missed her dearly so why would she choose to live as a savage for the rest of her life? I felt that there were an abundant amount of conflicting feelings, running through this young girls head. Giving me cause to believe why she turned away her families proposals. On pg. 108-109 we experience her thoughts and feelings and how ‘she remembered his(her father)coming to the village...She beeged him then to take her away, but he had failed her utterly.’ Was her decision to not return due to the mere fact that she wanted revenge against her father for disappointing her so? She was also upset that her father remarried another woman so soon after her mothers life was taken. ‘Had he really taken another wife, so soon after his return? Faithless, forgetful father, protector who could not protect, comforter who would not comfort, caretaker who did not care.’ I’m sure this was one more reason she chose not to return, however, I think that there was more underneath all of this. Whether she was happy or not this was the life she new, the life that she lived and the life she chose. English was now a foreign language to her. She was not a Puritan any longer. The religion affected the family life and society of Puritans while they were being held captive. Since family and religion were basically the back bone of their well-being, living a completely different life must have been hard for Puritans. Eunice too young to keep up on her prayers by herself caused her to be persuaded to convert Catholicism. She tried to continue reading her prayers by herself yet she needed the help of the elders. These young ones were too immature to realize what was happening to them. Another possibility that was not mentioned in The Unredeemed Captive is what life as a savage was like for young children. They did have chores just like the Puritans. However, the savages treated their children in a more lenient way. Savage children had more time to be kids. Maybe Eunice enjoyed this feeling of freedom. Maybe it helped her forget about her family. If all of these possibilities are taken into consideration it may explain Eunices reason for not returning to Deerfield. It is obvious that Eunice did want to return home immediately after her captivity. Years and years passed and as she grew older she grew to accept the fact that this was now her new family. She was happy and content with her new surroundings and Deerfield was an alien society to her. If she was to return home she would have had to relearn her native language, her religion and even family from the beginning. I found The Unredeemed Captive to be a fascinating book on both the literary and the historical level. John Demos takes you into the lives of people who experienced truthful events and bring you on a journey that helps you understand what it was like for these families during the 18th century.

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